ENVIRONMENTAL groups remain committed to fighting a proposed 21-year extension of the Boggabri Coal Mine, in the face of a recommendation from the NSW Department of Planning that it be approved.
Boggabri Coal applied to continue production at the mine for a further 21 years in October 2009, ahead of the expiry of its original lease in November last year.
It is already operating under a two-year extension.
Residents of Maules Creek say if the mine is approved by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC), they will be left with devastating impacts.
“We face mining of our floodproof access road, destruction of much of our local forest and tonnes and tonnes of mine dust landing on our families and our good farming country,” Maules Creek Community Council spokesman Phil Laird said.
“The biggest impact is on our community, which has already been decimated by the miners buying up land for both the (areas to be affected) and for offsets.”
Mr Laird said the group would pressure Planning Minister Brad Hazzard and the PAC to hold community meetings during the assessment process.
The Northern Inland Council for the Environment has also reacted angrily to the news.
“At the Gunnedah forum on the strategic land use plans, (Mr Hazzard) admitted that it was illogical to have open-cut coal mines in a tier one biodiversity area like the Leard State Forest,” Northern Inland Council for the Environment spokeswoman Carmel Flint said.
“Yet the Planning Department seems to think it is OK to destroy a unique biodiversity asset for an open-cut coal mine.
“The Boggabri and Maules Creek mines are being rushed through before either the Namoi Water Study or the cumulative risk assessment of mining in the Namoi catchment are completed.”
The state and federal governments should postpone any decisions on the projects until the studies were complete, she said.
The Lock the Gate Alliance has since labelled the area “the next big battleground in the fight against uncontrolled open-cut coal mining”.
The organisation plans to take on the mines in the area on behalf of Mr Laird – a fifth-generation farmer in the area – and his family, as well as other surrounding residents.
President Drew Hutton said the mines in the area, including the Boggabri Coal Mine, would clear 5000 hectares of forest and farmland, including more than 1000 hectares of critically endangered box gum woodland.