GREENS MP Jeremy Buckingham has slammed Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek and Vickery mine projects in a visit to the region.
However, the company says the politician was pushing his ideology-driven agenda without any facts.
“It’s clear to me that after meeting with concerned farmers, that Vickery mine is the most stupendously dumb mining project I have ever seen,” Mr Buckingham said.
“To put a 10-million tonne per annum coal mine 400 metres away from the Namoi River is reckless, stupid and must be opposed.
“The project puts agriculture and water quality at risk for people thousands kilometres downstream.”
Whitehaven says its science shows the mine will not impact the river, with the company even voluntarily moving the mine further away as a sign of good faith.
However, Mr Buckingham said “no one trusts Whitehaven’s science, nor are they good corporate citizens”.
He also took aim at the Maules Creek mine, which he said was drying out nearby water resources.
“At a time when some rainfall is hitting the region, Maules Creek is running dry,” he said.
“I’ve been out here around 10 times as an MP. Two years ago we took drone footage of the mine, and we took some this time to compare the impact over what is a relative short period of time.
“The differences is clear to the naked eye. It’s clearly impacting the Leard forest, which has been utterly decimated.”
A Whitehaven Coal spokesperson said Mr Buckingham’s visit to the region showed “once again he has never let the facts get in the way of his ideology driven, anti-business, anti-jobs agenda”.
They hosed down Mr Buckingham’s Maules Creek water claims, pointing to publicly available data from the Land and Water Commissioner and recently-appointed NSW Drought Commissioner.
“It shows the close correlation between rainfall and seasonal bore draw down effects related to irrigation activities,” the company spokesperson said.
“The correlation is apparent since the commencement of large scale irrigation in the area.
“Records indicate since mid-2016 there hasn't been enough rainfall to generate recharge of the alluvial aquifers. In other words, drought is implicated in bore draw downs, not mining.”