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Jul 18

Wollongong Coal’s mine plan a dam threat

Residents protest outside Corrimal Community Centre and Library against Wollongong Coal’s plan to expand Russell Vale mine near Cataract Dam. Picture: ADAM McLEANWOLLONGONG ADVERTISER
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The Sydney Catchment Authority has objected to Wollongong Coal’s proposal to expand longwall mining operations near Cataract Dam.

Wollongong Coal (formerly Gujarat NRE) said if their Russell Vale mine expansion, which involves mining 400 metres of longwall 6, gets the go-ahead it would help secure the 300 jobs on site.

The SCA’s environmental assessment identified the mining proposal’s potential impacts on water quality and quantity of Cataract Reservoir.

“We object to the proposal as it currently stands, particularly with regard to its incursion into the Dams Safety Committee Notification Area surrounding Cataract Reservoir,” the report said.

An area of particular concern was “the incomplete knowledge of key geographical structures known to occur in the area proposed to be mined”.

The SCA made the submission to the independent body assessing the mining application, the Planning Assessment Commission, which held a public hearing on Wollongong Coal’s application at Corrimal Library on October 30.

Residents protested at the PAC hearing, with mine neighbour Kaye Osborne presenting a jar of coal run-off contaminated water she said was collected from the overflowing creek on Hicks Street.

A member of Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining, Ms Osborne said the mine did not have a best practice history in environmental performance.

Greens NSW MP Jeremy Buckingham said the PAC should “reject this dangerous proposal and put the safety and health of Sydney’s water supply first and foremost”.

“It’s crazy to risk damaging Sydney and Illawarra’s water supply for a few extra tonnes of coal.”

The Department of Planning and Environment previously recommended that Wollongong Coal’s application be granted.

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