November 28, 2010

Meeting with Centennial 18th November

On Wednesday 18th November some of your committee met with Centennial Coal (Beau Preston and John Sandona). Here are some notes from that meeting.
Key Points
Hydrogeologcal information will be collected as part of exploration drilling
Mining will happen – if the coal resource is adequate and price right, regardless of any impact on water
Mining plans are not yet formulated as need information from the drilling program
Open cut is a possibility as they are looking at all options
Water management plans are not done yet

Water Census
· Some 60 landholders have taken part.
· Centennial approached another 57 of which some have rejected participation, others are not interested or don’t have anything to measure and from some there has been no response at all. Centennial are confident they have a wide enough geographic spread to enable a good picture to be drawn of the water resource.
· Because of privacy issues Centennial rejected the idea of RSWUA approaching those who had not participated in order to encourage them to do so.
· Centennial could have stopped the study 3 weeks ago, but have chosen to extend it and hope it demonstrates they are not treating the water census as a token exercise.
· The water census is to provide: a)specific site information relevant to where actual drill holes would go and b) to draw a global picture and c) this data will provide the platform on which to build further water studies.
· Given that the current result is atypical because of the recent wet conditions, the exercise will be repeated. Water studies have to be done over a minimum of one year (part of exploration licence conditions).
· Flow studies and lack thereof was questioned, with response being that where flow could be measured it was done so. JS agreed to look into an instance where landholders were told a spot on Gibbons Ck could not be measured as it was outside the exploration lease area.
· The water census is not relevant to the drilling program. THERE WAS MUCH DISCUSSION AROUND THIS POINT. RSWUA questioned why Centennial were handing out access agreements for exploratory holes before they even had the results of the water census, let alone a full hydrogeological survey. Centennial’s response was that some people were happy to sign now and that it was possible to do things in parallel as it gives landholders time to consider special conditions and wording. Landholders were under no pressure. There will be no drilling until the water census report is finalised.
· Peter Docker raised fact that he had had no response to his August letter regarding access for water census. Centennial maintained a response had been drafted - but obviously it had never been sent.

Exploratory Drilling
· RSWUA again requested that a full hydrogeological survey being done before any exploratory drilling. RSWUA maintains that such a survey would involve a different drilling technique and pattern.
· Centennial maintained that the hydrogeological survey will be done over time and as part of the drilling program where presence of water as well as the rock strata will be recorded. It is their intent to do both at same time and they are being guided by a hydrogeologist.
· The full hydrogeological study is part of their study for the mine.
· Centennial were asked to put into writing their technical explanation of the drilling process with the geophysical and sonic logging that is done so that people can study it and understand the whole process. They agreed to do this.
· Centennial also agreed to have a public meeting where the overall results of the water census report could be presented and discussed. A hydrogeologist (Aquaterra) will be present at that meeting to answer technical questions.
· At the same time there will be a full technical explanation of the drilling and how this would provide adequate hydrological information. Before that meeting a full technical brief on the drilling (what and how) will be given to RSWUA.
· May need separate access agreement for monitoring if borehole becomes a pisometer (measure water depths).
· Compensation - are covered if can demonstrate compensable loss - NB the issues that are covered as compensable loss in the Mining Act DOES NOT SPECIFICALLY MENTION WATER
· Rehabilitation plans will be part of the Environmental Assessment which forms part of the mine application process
· Drilling not till water census completed and presented to the community.

Community Consultative Committee
· The Chairperson for this has been appointed – Margaret McDonald-Hill. Will be called a Community Liaison Committee (CLC) and will include a Dept of I&I rep plus a rep from each of the local govt areas (Lithgow and Mid-Western).
· Adds will be placed in the paper within the next few weeks asking for people to nominate. Centennial expects the Chair to call the inaugural meeting in Feb.
· Centennial suggested that the public meeting should be held after the CLC has held its first meeting.

November 26, 2010

Hunter stud owner shuts the gate to stop mining companies bolting across his land

Date: November 25 2010
Ben Cubby ENVIRONMENT EDITOR Sydney Morning Herald
IT WAS the cradle of a national plan to regenerate farms and fight salinity, but a Hunter Valley horse stud is now a target for a new coalmine.
Peter Andrews developed the practice of "natural sequence farming", which involves building earthworks and planting trees to mimic original landscapes, on his property at Tarwyn Park, near Bylong.
The practice, which was championed by the former governor-general Michael Jeffery and the businessman and thoroughbred breeder Gerry Harvey, has since been applied to hundreds of degraded Australian farms.
But Mr Andrews has barred his gates to Anglo American Coal workers seeking to drill bores on the property to locate and measure the coal seams beneath it, and neighbouring landholders have followed suit.
Korea Electric Power Corp has said it intends to start mining in the area by 2016, although it has not specified whether it plans to develop underground or open-cut mines.
"We don't know exactly what they're proposing but the potential is that they will destroy the aquifer under the property by drilling," said Stuart Andrews, Mr Andrews's son.
"With the aquifer damaged, the place would just die." Mr Harvey, who owns a nearby horse stud, added his opposition to the mining proposal.
"Tarwyn is a living case study of how we can get it right when it comes to water use and sustainable agriculture," he said in a statement.
"The place should be a bloody shrine, not a hole in the ground. The irony – and stupidity – of possibly losing a place like Tarwyn to mining is simply breathtaking."
About 420 million tonnes of coal suitable for power generation are thought to lie beneath the horse studs, and the entire Tarwyn Park property lies within the area covered by the exploration licence.
Korea Electric Power Corp, which is majority-owned by the government of South Korea, bought exploration rights to the area from Anglo American Coal earlier this year for $403 million. The sale is yet to receive final approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board.
Anglo American Coal, which is continuing exploration work, said there was no chance the aquifer would be damaged or polluted by the drilling."The borehole when completed is grouted or cemented and is then completely impermeable and thus does not affect the water aquifer," the company said in a statement to the Herald.
"Whether there is a true potential for a mine, whether open cut or underground, is contingent on information derived from the exploration drilling program."
It said a plan to drill 18 test holes across Tarwyn Park and neighbouring properties would go ahead at "the earliest opportunity, pending approvals".
It is understood the company has spoken to some landholders in the district and believed it had been granted access to drill bores in return for compensation, before the current stand-off.

November 17, 2010

Coal Mining articles in Mudgee Guardian 17/11/10

Mid-Western coal group formed

The Mid-Western Community Action Group (MWCAG) will be reactivated as a regional body to voice residents’ concerns about the expansion of coal mining, following a public meeting at the Mudgee Soldiers Club on Monday evening.
Read more…

Region faces mine ‘explosion’

The Mid-Western Region faces an explosion of mining in the next seven years, Mid-Western Regional Council general manager Warwick Bennett told National Party members at a community meeting on Monday afternoon.
Read more…

GasLand movie to be shown in Mudgee - Thursday 2nd Dec 7.30 pm at AREC

Right click on flyer to enlarge.
Flyer provided by Barbarw Hickson

November 15, 2010


Dr W.M.Castleden MS, FRCS, FRACS Retired Vascular Surgeon (Past Chairman Doctors for the Environment, Australia.) and other colleagues have made a submission to the Chairman, Environmental Protection Agency in WA which addresses the health threats of coal mining, many of which are unavoidable.

Extracts from the submission include:

"There are specific health effects of coal mining. Of all the resources to mine coal is probably the most treacherous. Each step of the coal life cycle: mining, transportation, washing, as well as combustion, and disposing of post-combustion wastes, have impacts human health."

"Coal mining radically changes the lifestyle, character and inhabitants of all communities."

The Appendix to the submission shows:

"This photograph is of the bed of Waratah Rivulet north of Wollongong. This used to be the main stream that fed the Woronora Dam, an important water source for Sydney.
The stream no longer flows - at least most of the time it doesn't. The bed of the stream has been ruptured and water disappears down the cracks. Why? Because of longwall coal mining beneath the stream.
Many streams in NSW suffer the same fate."

To view or download the full submission click here.

Posted for President

November 14, 2010

Hits on our Blog

The President was wondering how many people read our Blog.

I checked up to find that there have been more than 3,600 to date and the number in the last 30 days now shows in the right hand side bar below Links. Please check up!

November 12, 2010

Hunter Valley Protection Alliance holds Joint Strategy Forum

On Saturday 6th November, the Hunter Valley Protection Alliance held a Joint Strategy Forum of the "Coalition of Coal & Methane Gas Community Action Groups" at Broke, which brought together 40 protest groups and communities from Queensland, NSW and Victoria to discuss the issue of destructive coal mining and coal seam gas exploitation across Australia.

The Conference endorsed National Action!

John Thomson, Executive Officer of Hunter Valley Protection Alliance has now reported:
“Welcome to the emergence of a national alliance of communities concerned about the rapacious, unfettered and government-sanctioned growth of the coal mining, coal seam gas mining and related industries.
I can't believe it is almost a week since we met. This past weekend's forum was, in the words of a journalist who contacted me on Sunday morning, an historic event. We are taking our collective message to a new, national level.
A copy of the powerpoint slides used to assist in our discussions is attached.”

November 11, 2010

Exploration Drilling

I had a look at the Drilling information from CCAG, which is very detailed, and in my opinion correct.

I have a “Heavy Civil Engineering” background where I spent a good part of my life in deep foundation “piling” work.
I was employed at the time by the world largest Piling company which operated in over 60 countries.
During my time I was responsible for over 400 individual projects, including all foundation work on the “New parliament house” , Sydney Entertainment Centre, Bridge foundation and large Industrial work all over NSW.

In piling work with similar ground conditions as we have in the Mount Vincent/Cherry tree hill I have found general the following.
Drilled piles would range from 600mm to 1800mm diameter. The Basalt is in most cases very hard for the size of piling holes.
The alluvial material above the Sandstone is often of “gravelly-sandy” nature
The Sandstone ranges from weak to very dense and hard with intermitted layers of iron stone “extremely hard” and or layers of faults/cracks of soft sandy material. Often the deeper the harder it gets.
In weak Sandstone and alluvial material it is the norm to use drilling fluids. The drilling fluid prevents the hole from collapsing and prevents the ingress of water.

In our area I would expect water in all strata’s, i.e. crakes in the Basalt which ones exposed will decant into the drill hole.
Large water flows in the alluvial layers, which without drilling fluid will have strong flows into the hole and bringing with it large amounts of sand and gravel, i.e. the hole would become considerable larger in this strata.
In the Sandstone considerable amount of water can be expected  trapped  in various layers of soft rock and cracks up to 30mm wide. Yet in some Sandstone there is almost nil water ingress.

During my time the majority of drilling fluids were bentonite mixed with water, however some chemical mixtures started to appear which at the time were highly toxic, and very costly to dispose of.

On many cases I have noticed  considerable loss of drilling fluids, for example a hole used 12 m3 of concrete to fill, but absorbed 13 m3 of drilling fluid.
Where did it go?  Well it clogged up crakes in the rock formation and travelled considerable distances in porous water bearing layers, which could affect springs a long way away.

Please note I am not a geologist, the above is soly based on experience and actually dealing with water in the foundation work.
In the piling game water is a “nuisance” which makes the job more difficult, therefore little attention is given  to its value.

Rolf Vogt

Posted for Rolf

November 8, 2010

Solar as cheap as coal? - article by Giles Parkinson

Can solar be cheaper than coal and gas? In a sense it already is, given the value that the NSW government has given it after cutting tariffs from rooftop solar to below that delivered to the household from coal and gas plants.

But in Germany, a new report suggests that solar could be produced, rather than just consumed, as cheaply as power from new gas and coal plants within five to eight years.

That turns all assumptions about the costs of energy on their head. But the report prepared by consulting group AT Kearney on behalf of its client, the German solar developer Phoenix Solar, suggests production costs for solar PV should be properly compared to the cost of new oil and gas facilities, rather than the current infrastructure.

And it predicts that solar, given further increases in scale and technological advances, could cut PV production costs in half by 2020 to be as low as low as 12.6 euro cents ($0.18) per kilowatt-hour, which would compare with around 15.6 euro cents for newly installed gas generation by 2020.

The study develops some further interesting arguments. It suggests that solar PV costs should not be compared with the baseload cost of electricity, but to the costs of the medium and high peak loads in which it usually operates.

It also says that the macro-economic benefits of solar PV will pass break-even for the first time in 2010. And the study suggests that once the estimated 6GW of solar PV are installed onto the German grid by end of 2011 then the accumulated benefits of all solar PV connected to the German grid since 2000 will have outweighed their costs.

The study cites not just the comparison of solar PV costs against medium and peak load power, but also broader benefits of a new manufacturing base, jobs, export income, and it’s key role in accelerating the structural transition to an efficient, intelligent energy grid with a high proportion of decentralised power generation.

“PV therefore enables wide swathes of the population to participate in the supply of energy,” the report says. ”In addition, it generates impetus for the development of innovative, decentralised energy systems and integrated applications, such as charging stations for electrical vehicles, which underpin Germany's technological cutting edge in the field of renewable energies."

If AT Kearney’s predictions on solar costs versus coal seem highly contentious, the argument about solar PVs broader significance in the energy networks of the future is an element that has been completely missing from the furore surrounding solar PV and other renewables in Australia.

What will be more troubling for the solar industry – and other emerging renewables hoping for a clear and helpful policy path – is the current tone of the debate from government and industry, which leaves little hope that sensible policy will ensue.

Established industry knows the value of a scare campaign, it’s worked to brilliant effect with state and federal capitulation over the CPRS, mining taxes, and now solar tariffs. But bullying works. Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, seemingly responding to such pressures, has hinted that the planned phase-down of renewable energy certificate multipliers may also be accelerated.

The Energy Minister, Martin Ferguson, who has a say in all of this, was at it again yesterday, telling an energy conference in Sydney that putting a price on carbon "is a significantly cheaper way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions than prescriptive, technology specific solar feed in tariffs that have been introduced by different state governments.”

Here, solar PV and other renewables seem destined to be measured only for their costs – even though they are a fraction of the expenditure for the planned (with little scrutiny) upgrade of our coal-fired networks – and their performance criteria are now judged only by their ability to cut emissions.

That’s all very well if your vision of the future is a continuation of the large centralised power grids that have been the blueprint of the industry for the past three decades. And your motivation, prodded by the fear campaigns of utilities with interests to protect, are that the lights may go out.

But that is not the way the world is heading – and it shouldn’t be the direction that Australia is taking either.

The government’s own task force on energy efficiency makes that clear. This report is not simply about turning things off when they are not in use and making appliances and buildings more efficient, it is also about challenging the national energy market to change its spots, and for various components to change their business models.

The current model that delivers rewards only for producing more electrons (in the case of generators) and building more poles and wires and transformers (in the case of transmission and distribution), is not the most sustainable, it is not the least cost, and it is not the most efficient.

Posted for President

November 7, 2010

New documents added on 'Reference Documents' page

The following new documents have been added on the 'Reference Documents' page which can be accessed in side bar under 'Pages of this Blog' -

Overview of Mining Exploration Access  - NSW Farmers document

Developing Land Access Agreements - NSW Farmers document

Template Land Access Agreement - NSW Farmers document  

November 5, 2010

StreetFeast stall 6/11/10

Memo to all Members.

RSWUA will have a small presence at StreetFeast - sharing a stall with Wombat Gully Nursery. Please come and support your association and buy a raffle ticket. We have a wonderful hamper of all sorts of local produce that is made possible by our valuable water resource. If anyone is able to spare a few hours to man the stall, or has an item to contribute to the hamper please contact Helen Ewart on 63  588 660.

Posted for President

November 3, 2010

November 1, 2010

No new mining until strategic planning is done

NSW Farmers’ Association has released a Framework for Sustainable Development, focused on planning for agriculture and extractive industries. The Framework seeks to provide adequate protection for agricultural land and water resources and farmers’ property rights.

Click on a page to enlarge and read or download the document and read by clicking here.

A Briefing Note explaining where the moratorium would and would not apply is shown hereunder and can be downloaded from here.

 Posted for President