May 28, 2010

Articles in Mudgee Guardian 28 May 2010

The Running Stream Water Users Association joined forces with the Capertee Valley Alliance to present the case against coal mining to Federal MPs Mark Coulton and John Cobb in Orange last week.

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The proposed Cobbora Coal Project threatens the security of Mudgee’s town water supply as well as the viability of the region’s agriculture, wine and tourism industry, a community meeting in Mudgee was told on Wednesday night.

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Greens MP and federal senate candidate Lee Rhiannon visited Mudgee this week to address a public meeting over the proposed Cobbora coal mine.

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NSWMC Media Release: NSW Budget must focus on business competitiveness and investment

This is what the Minerals Council says -

Ref: 28-10
Wednesday, 26 May 2010

NSW Budget must focus on business competitiveness and investment

“Grow don’t gouge” is the message from the NSW Minerals Council ahead of the 2010 NSW State Budget, CEO Dr Nikki Williams said today.

Releasing the Budget Submission to NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendaal, Dr Williams said business and industry are “essential partners” for the Government to generate the economic growth and revenues needed to provide the first class public services that the people of NSW deserve.

“We’d much prefer to see governments encouraging industries and businesses to grow, rather than taxing them into oblivion,” Dr Williams said.

“Earlier this year Ports & Waterways Minister Paul Macleay said expanded capacity at the Port of Newcastle would ‘deliver up to 25,000 jobs in the Hunter over the next six years and generate an additional $500 million of coal royalties each year’. It is a perfect illustration of the long-term benefits of encouraging business and investment.

“The temptation to target industries that require long run, high risk investment, to address short-term fiscal problems must be avoided. To that end, we again welcome the recent announcement by the Treasurer that there will be no increase in royalties in this Budget.

“The NSW Government must focus on policies that create a positive environment for investment, including in the mining industry. In some circumstances like exploration programs, limited government investment will assist. These investments will reap the NSW Government long-term, steady and reliable revenue streams.”

In addition to State specific Budget challenges, Dr Williams said the NSW Government needed to play an active role in representing the interests of NSW in the debate on the Federal Government’s proposed Resources Super Profit Tax.

“The mining industry is holding ongoing discussions with the NSW Government, which has shown it is acutely aware of the potential impacts of this proposed new tax on mining here. We are hopeful they will make the case for fair and genuine reform that won’t jeopardise the $17 billion of investment currently on the books in NSW.”

The 11 key recommendations in the submission include:

1.     Listen to those regional communities which host mining operations which are calling for greater investment of existing royalties to ensure social infrastructure keeps pace with their aspirations.

2.     Ensure that sufficient human and other resources are allocated to ensure that the Government’s commitments to address the broader problems associated with duplicative regulatory requirements are delivered.

3.     Focus on strategic land use planning in the mining regions of NSW. This approach would allow the benefits and costs of different land use patterns to be assessed up front, helping shape future development in the region and creating a vision that all stakeholders can embrace. The Government needs to educate the community about the Part 3A process and its role in balancing competing interests.

4.     Make a long-term financial commitment to minerals exploration, similar to the New Frontiers program.

“The $23 billion NSW mining sector provides more than 65,000 direct jobs in mining and minerals processing. While it may not be fashionable to say so at the moment, just like Queensland and Western Australia, New South Wales is very much a resource State,” said Dr Williams.

Global demand for commodities mined in NSW is projected to grow strongly over the next five years. NSW has capital expenditure of more than $5.2 billion in projects either under construction or committed.  Additional projects worth almost $12 billion are on the books. 

“The percentage of these projects which will proceed to the advanced stage will depend on a wide range of factors including global demand and access to capital,” Dr Williams said.

“Critically for the NSW economy, other determining factors such as the cost competitiveness of developing NSW deposits versus those held elsewhere, sovereign risk factors, regulatory efficiency and policy settings will also play a decisive role. The potential for economic growth, should NSW get these issues right, is immense.”


1.     The full submission is attached to this email.
2.     Dr Nikki Williams is available for interview.

Scott Keenan
Media & Communications Manager
9274 1413 or 0438 280 073 

May 27, 2010

RSWUA-Press release-26.5.10

            The Running Stream Water Users Association joined forces with the Capertee Valley Alliance to present their case to Federal MPs Mark Coulton and John Cobb in Orange last week.

Both groups are seriously concerned about the impact of coal mining on their interconnected water resource. Spring water in the Running Steam/ Mount Vincent area flows east and west off the Great Dividing Range feeding both the Cudgegong and Colo rivers. The water flowing east runs into the Capertee Valley then onto the Colo River eventually finding its way to the Sydney Basin.

Coal mining not only disrupts and in some cases destroys these delicate hydrological systems but it also uses vast amounts of water in the extraction process. Both groups insist that this crucial resource, which has supported farming in the area for generations, must not be jeopardised for short term gain.

Member for Parkes Mark Coulton is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Water Resources and Conservation and both he and Member for Calare John Cobb listened with interest for nearly two hours to the groups’ concerns. Mr Cobb even made personal enquires about land prices with an eye to potentially buying in to this unique area. The groups are now drafting questions to be table by the two politicians in Parliament.

Chair of the Capertee Valley Alliance Donna Upton described the meeting as “productive and realistic”.We live in a World Heritage area and need to ensure that the surrounding natural areas are not lost or irreversibly affected by loss of natural watercourses and wilderness” she said. Secretary of the Running Stream Water Users Association Jolieske Lips agreed that the meeting was very useful. “It’s always important to put a human face on these issues,” she said; “We look forward to welcoming both MPs to our area in the near future so they can see with their own eyes jus how magnificent an asset it is.”

An invitation was extended to both politicians to visit the Running Stream/Capertee area with local helicopter pilot Mark Lilley offering to fly them over the valley, the world’s second largest naturally eroded river valley after the Grand Canyon. “The Capertee Valley, as it currently exists, is a valuable and priceless asset to be protected,” said Mrs Upton; “In the long term, it will be our saviour as far as an ecotourism destination, a bird watching nirvana and pristine wilderness.” The Capertee Valley is currently home to a staggering 10% of Australia’s biodiversity and the region holds great potential for future tourism operations.

The recent historic rejection of the Bickham Coal Mine in the Hunter Valley signals a positive shift in State government policy towards destructive mining practices and gives both groups hope for their own plight. As Ms Lips stated; “We don’t want to be another Hunter Valley!” 

MEDIA ENQUIRES: Nell Schofield /0413746909/63794043

May 23, 2010

SMH news - Chronic disease

Chronic disease risk higher for industrial area residents

May 22, 2010
RESIDENTS of the Hunter Valley who live near the region's dense cluster of open-cut coal mines and power stations are at greater risk of chronic disease and premature death, according to a new study.

The report, commissioned by the government following a series of stories on the region by theHerald, found emergency department attendances and hospital admissions for asthma, respiratory and cardiovascular, as well as overall premature death were higher in parts of the Upper and Lower Hunter Valley than across the state.

It also found strong evidence that fine-dust pollution of the type created by coal mining and coal-fired power generation could cause ill health of this type.

But it said that on the evidence available no relationship between the region's heavy industry and higher disease rates had been established.

The state's chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, acknowledged the higher rates of illness. "The report shows there are higher than average rates of some conditions such as respiratory and cardiovascular problems in the region as a whole, but reaches no conclusion about the role of air pollution," she said.

"The report ultimately finds that further investigation is required to determine the role of pollutant exposure and suggests that other recognised disease risk factors including smoking need to be considered."

The report's conclusion read: ''These data may indicate adverse health effects due to exposure to coal mining or coal-fired power generators or may be due to other factors.

''Further investigation is required to determine the role of pollutant exposures.''

Much of the new evidence to be gathered about air quality in the region is expected to be drawn from a proposed network of dust monitors.

The network has already been rejected by local activists because it monitors mostly for larger particles, rather than the superfine dust recent research has shown to be most dangerous; because the network will be funded by the polluters themselves; and because the state government has not yet even decided which organisation will manage the network.

Tuan Au, a Singleton doctor who has been campaigning for more government action on the region's health, again criticised the monitoring system last night, saying he believed the wrong particles were being measured in the wrong places.

''Maybe they are frightened of getting a real answer.''
He called for further research.

An associate professor at the University of Newcastle's centre for clinical epidemiology and biostatistics, Nick Higginbotham, said the report was a good first step.

Dr Higginbotham, who has previously published a study saying health in the region had been ignored due to the dependence of the government on coal, said whoever had written the report was clearly aware of new international evidence of the dangers of dust pollution.

But he criticised the report for failing to include data from the National Pollution Inventory that showed high levels of fine particles could be found in the air over Singleton and Muswellbrook.

May 17, 2010

Cobbora mine tenders close

Tenders from companies interested in operating the proposed $1.3 billion open-cut coal mine at Cobbora are in the hands of the joint venture that is working toward lodging an application for approval of the project with the NSW Government within the next few months.

May 14, 2010

Community Action Meeting

Message from Jolieske Lips

Aim is to show strong community opposition to yet another mine (the Cobbora mine between Dunedoo and Gulgong) in our district – before the Development Application is made.

May 12, 2010

Mine forum planned by Mid-Western Regional Council

Mid-Western Regional Council will go ahead with a public meeting on the proposed Cobbora coal mine at Laheys Creek, despite the mine consortium’s refusal to attend.

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