March 31, 2011

Deck shuffled as chairman resigns - Centennial Coal

After 22 years at the helm, Centennial Coal’s Robert (Bob) Cameron will resign as Centennial Coal’s Managing Director and CEO at the end of June.

Mr Cameron’s corporate knowledge and highly regarded industry experience will continue to benefit the company he created through his future incoming leadership as chairman of the Centennial Coal board.

Dr Ken Moss AM, who has served for 11 years as chairman of Centennial Coal, will be leaving the board.

In a period of 22 years Bob Cameron founded Preston Coal Company - a $2 million, 150,000 tonnes per annum mine employing 30 people - and then grew it into Centennial Coal - a $2.5 billion, 20 million tonnes per annum company employing 1,700 people at 10 mines.

Following a takeover in late 2010 Centennial Coal became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Banpu, a large experienced operator of coal mines and power generating assets in Thailand, Indonesia and China.

“Banpu represents an exciting new chapter in the future growth of Centennial Coal to which they are fully committed, and I am looking forward to my continued involvement as Chairman of the Board”, said Mr Cameron.

“I have lived and breathed Centennial Coal and been a staunch advocate of the coal mining sector for many decades. I will continue to be an ambassador for Centennial and remain ever mindful that Centennial’s past, present and future success continues to be directly attributed to its people”.

Mr Cameron will be replaced as CEO and Managing Director by Centennial’s long serving Chief Operating Officer David Moult. Mr Moult has worked in the United Kingdom and United States of America before joining Centennial Coal in 1998.

“David’s strong operational and management skills combined with his demonstrated ability to build teams and motivate people, are the ideal attributes required for continued positive leadership of the company”, said Mr Cameron.

Centennial’s Steve Bracken will be promoted to the position of Chief Operating Officer. Mr Bracken has worked in a variety of senior roles in the Company, most recently as General Manager Northern Operations.

Mr Cameron concluded, “As the founder of Centennial Coal I am most proud of our professional and dedicated workforce, our close ties to the communities within which we operate, and the high returns we have provided to our supportive shareholders,” he said.

Article in Mudgee Guardian 28 Mar, 2011

March 22, 2011


Around a thousand people converged on Martin Place last Sunday in a powerful display of rural communities united in their battle against the expansion of coal mining and coal seam gas extraction.

Braving a deluge, members of the Running Stream Water Users Association travelled by bus and train to Sydney to join forces with other grass-roots organisations like the Mid-Western Community Action Network and the Rylstone District Environment Society to demonstrate their concerns about the impacts of coal mining on water resources and agricultural land.

 Bev Smiles represented local groups by taking to the stage alongside speakers such as Independent candidate for the Upper Hunter Tim Duddy and John Thomson from Lock The Gate Alliance who, along with the Nature Conservation Council of Australia, organised the pre-election rally. Ms. Smiles spoke about the unanimous decision by the Mid-Western Regional Council to call for a moratorium on coal mining until the impacts of this industry are fully understood.

Councillor Julie Lyford from Gloucester gave an alarming account of the complete disregard demonstrated by the State government towards local concerns in her area which is also under threat from destructive coal related industries. She called on people to “uphold community democracy” and continue the noble fight to protect our lands for future generations.

The protesters then marched down Elizabeth Street to the State government offices at Governor Phillip Tower where they heard from Independent Federal MP Rob Oakeshott whose electorate of Lyne is currently targeted for 110 coal seam gas wells. Mr. Oakeshott threw his support behind the movement calling on the next State government to review such planning decisions as a matter of urgency. Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann also spoke in support of a moratorium on the coal and coal seam gas industry. But despite invitations, no member from either major party attended the rally.

Posted for Nell

March 18, 2011


Email from Craig Shaw, BVPA Committee.

Those who managed to hear Dr Dick van Steenis when he was here were impressed by his breadth of knowledge in relation to coal mining and health – and shocked by some of the information presented. We will have some information and links available on the Bylong Mining web pages in the next few days, but in the meantime, you may care to read a transcript of his Mudgee presentation, which has been made available on the MWCAN website (see:


Email from Craig Shaw, BVPA Committee.

I represented the BVPA at an Environment Forum held at Parliament House last Tuesday evening.

The event was hosted by Quentin Dempster and featured -
* Frank Sartor (Labor, Minister for Climate Change and the Environment),
* Catherine Cusack (Liberal, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability),
* David Shoebridge (Leader of the Greens in the Upper House).

About 12 different questions were compiled/distilled from questions submitted prior to the event and prepared for various individuals to present on the evening - I was fortunate enough to be selected to present one of the questions relating to Mining and Coal Seam Gas. This gave an opportunity for the Bylong Valley Protection Alliance name to be raised in front of these key political representatives and others – hopefully helping is in our cause. 

(Thanks to Bev Smiles for suggesting the BVPA for this role. Much appreciated.)

March 16, 2011


New mining and gas policies from the Coalition and ALP that seek to limit the environmental and social impacts of mining; and today’s hysterical reaction from the mining industry go to prove that ALP governments and the mining industry have indulged in unbalanced decision making for years, Total Environment Centre said today. 

A Huge Open Cut threatens the Gardens of Stone

Blog readers are asked to view the Colong Foundation’s leaflet on the proposed expansion of open cut mining near Cullen Bullen. The Colong Foundation is the longest-serving community advocate for wilderness in Australia. Their campaigns have secured over a million hectares of national parks, most of which is wilderness but a further million hectares of threatened forests in NSW need urgent protection. This includes the local Ben Bullen State Forest. Their site provides the information you need to help secure these areas and others across the nation.

The leaflet below was presented to the Minister for Planning, Tony Kelly, by Keith Muir at the recent Coal and Gas Strategy forum held in Lithgow on the 25 February 2011.

A Huge Open Cut threatens the Gardens of Stone 

Privatisation by stealth – a unique biodiverse and geodiverse public forest is at risk of exclusive occupation and destruction by open cut coal mining 

A 1,088 hectare open cut proposed in the Ben Bullen State Forest 20 kilometres north of Lithgow is endangering the fate of the Gardens of Stone Stage 2 reserve proposal. Coalpac’s huge proposal on the western side of the Great Divide Range will come forward for approval this April. It adjoins the Mudgee (Castlereagh) Highway, and would turn an area equivalent in size to 2,176 football fields into a waste rock heap within the Ben Bullen State Forest, which links the north and south parts of the reserve proposal. 

We can stop this now, but only with your help! 

Don’t let this public forest ... 

 be open cut like this...

 Reserve Proposal threatened by destructive precedent

The Gardens of Stone is a biodiversity and geodiversity hot spot. While partly reserved as a national park in 1994, the majority of the proposal’s unique pagoda sandstone formations were excluded due to coal mining leases. The underground mining in the Ben Bullen section will be completed in 2014. Environment groups were recently advised that the Ben Bullen/Wolgan State Forests were next in line for reservation. We thought we were getting somewhere! Only a few minor open cut mines had occurred on the western edge of the proposal. Now the huge Coalpac mine threatens to turn the Gardens of Stone into an environmental disaster zone. Open cut coal mining in indifferent country is bad enough, but the destruction of this outstanding natural area is intolerable. In high conservation areas, it’s time to stop destructive proposals, such as this gigantic open cut in a publicly-owned forest!

Stop it NOW! Please Take Action before the State Election. Send an email or write to to Keneally and O’Farrell urging them to reject Coalpac’s proposed open cut, and to gazette instead the Ben Bullen/Wolgan State Forests as a Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area. 
*   The Hon. Kristina Keneally, Premier of NSW, email: mail: Parliament House, Sydney, 2000 
*   The Hon. Barry O’Farrell, Leader of the Opposition, email: mail: Parliament House, Sydney, 2000 

Authorised by the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, Level 2, 332 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000

For readers wanting more information on Cullen Bullen open cut mining please follow this link to an informative letter by Keith Muir of the Colong Foundation. Readers are invited to view their website to gain a greater insight into their organisation, its objectives and its achievements to date.

Posted for Guy Sim

March 14, 2011

UK expert calls for better air monitoring

Mudgee Guardian article by ROBYN MURRAY 14 Mar, 2011

A United Kingdom industrial health expert has called on the NSW Government to introduce more stringent air quality monitoring to protect communities living near open cut coal mines, power stations and cement factories.

Dr Dick van Steenis, who has studied the effects of industrial air pollution in the UK for 16 years, was in Mudgee and Bylong on Saturday as part of a speaking tour of coal mining regions.

He told the Mid-Western Community Action Network (MWCAN) meeting that the NSW Government currently monitored for emission particles no smaller than 10 microns
However, it was the smaller particles which could be breathed in and absorbed into the blood stream, causing health problems such as cancer, asthma and other respiratory disorders, heart attacks, low birth weights in babies and depression, he said.

Smaller particles were also carried in the air for a longer distance, affecting people over a larger area, he said.

Dr van Steenis said studies in the UK and the United States had showed a higher rate of disease in communities near industries emitting particles and a similar pattern was being seen in the Hunter Valley.

The smaller particles were often the result of waste products being burned in addition to coal, or use of poor quality fuels in heavy machinery, he said.

Dr van Steenis said before approving new mining developments or power stations, the State Government should undertake “health mapping” of communities and to take into account not only the royalties that would be generated, but also the health and welfare costs.

Money spent on more stringent emissions standards would in the long run save the State Government money on health and disability support for people too ill to work, he said.

“In NSW, [the State Government] sees the dollar signs first, then signs up and worries about the rest later,” he said.

“For every pound you put into clean up emissions, you save six pounds on health spending and four pounds on social security spending.”

Dr van Steenis said open cut coal mining was acceptable as long as it was more than three miles (4.8 kilometres) from towns, did not affect water supplies and was not on prime agricultural land.

“Agriculture should be number one – the world will always need food and with the growing world population will need more food,” he said.

Using up to 30 per cent biodiesel in fuel could reduce emissions of small particles from heavy machinery, he said.
However, Dr van Steenis said Australian cement works and power stations needed to be cleaned up to meet standards along the lines of those in place in the United States and Japan, ideally under federal rather than state control.

Dr van Steenis is in Australia to take part in a forum in Sydney on human health impacts of open-cut coal mining and coal seam gas mining, and has also visited regional areas including Singleton, Gunnedah, Maitland and Newcastle.

March 12, 2011

Deaf and blind to the real world

Letter by Sharyn Munro to be published in The Newcastle Herald.

When NSW government representatives came to Singleton to hear what locals had to say about their draft Coal and Gas Strategy, you'd think they'd realise this was the real world, not the parallel paper world of Macquarie Street, where they created our dirty, toxic Hunter coal strip.

Here locals have been saying 'Enough!' for some years, begging for a moratorium on any new mines or expansions until the impacts are investigated – on health, on other landuses, on communities. All are suffering.

 The mining industry boasts that most of the open country between Singleton and Muswellbrook is under opencut mining – and what they haven't already disembowelled, they plan to.

So it was offensive when the Deputy Director General of Planning said that perhaps 'the pendulum has swung a bit too far', when we are overwhelmed by coal; to hear that their strategy expects to 'intensify' and expand mining here, when we can't take any more; that impacts will be 'managed', when they haven't been able or willing to before.

'Enough!' is clearly not an option that they will hear or consider.  We were told this is happening because the world demand for coal will continue, but  a 'demand' is just a market for business. We do have the choice not to harm whole populations and regions for private and mostly foreign profits– or we would if our government was not so shortsightedly, stupidly, tied to coal.

'Expand'? Di Gee and her asthmatic children can't cope with mining 'expanding' closer to their home; the few remaining residents of mine-beseiged Camberwell can't cope with it being 'intensified' by a sixth mine around them.

Where is the humanity in their Strategy?

Comments sought on coal and gas strategy

Mudgee Guardian 11 Mar, 2011 
The NSW Government has set up an online forum to allow the public to comment on the coal and gas strategy for the state.The online forum is at and is part of public consultation on the NSW Coal and Gas Strategy scoping paper, which is on exhibition until April 15.
click here to read the whole article.

March 10, 2011

Free environmental law workshop

The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) is holding a workshop in Lithgow next Thursday 17th March at the Lithgow Information & Neighbourhood Centre (LINC), Cnr of Railway Pde/Padley St from 6:00 - 9:00pm.

The workshop will provide an overview of some of the key laws governing mining in NSW, the planning and environmental law framework in which decisions are made, public participation in this process, and other useful information. It will also look at the new process for making local environmental plans (LEPs) and the contents of the standard instrument.

The Environmental Defender's Office Ltd, (EDO), is a not-for-profit community legal centre specialising in public interest environmental law. We help individuals and community groups who are working to protect the natural and built environment.  You can go to their website to find out more about the workshop

For more information or to RSVP, email or call (02) 9262 6989

Also RSVP to Thomas Ebersol  for catering purposes. Light refreshments and we ask for a gold coin donation.

Info from CVA

Minister to raise coal and gas exclusion zones

ABC News 10 Mar 2011

NSW Planning Minister, Tony Kelly, says he will ask the Premier to consider exclusion zones as part of Labor's strategy for the future of the state's coal and gas industries.

Mr Kelly will meet with Kristina Keneally after more than 400 people attended a forum in Singleton on land use conflicts between the resource industries and its neighbours.

The Hunter Valley meeting was the largest gathering of the four held so far to guide development of the strategy.

Read full article.

Gas exploration near Sydney dam 'makes mockery of guidelines'

The Midday Report - Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sydney's Water Catchment - Gas Exploration
Scientists have expressed concern after the New South Wales Government approved natural gas
exploration around south-west Sydney's Woronora Dam.

ABC News audio visual link - expires Tuesday, June 7, 2011.

March 8, 2011

Coal forum, Singleton

NSW Minister for Planning Tony Kelly will be in Singleton tomorrow to address the community and stakeholder forum on the new NSW Coal and Gas Strategy.

Yesterday Mr Kelly agreed there should be some locations off limits to coal mining.

Agriculture in the Sydney basin, the thoroughbred industry and Pokolbin and its vineyards are just three   Mr Kelly suggested when speaking with The Singleton Argus on Monday.

“I think it is justified that we look at that, there is a lot of coal in New South Wales and we will never get to extract it all,” he said.

He added that ramifications of any decision to slow mining would have dire consequences of places like Singleton in terms of employment and economic growth.

“The aim of the strategy is to develop a range of initiatives to provide greater certainty for stakeholders, communities, the mining industry and the environment,” Mr Kelly said.

The forum is being held tomorrow at the Singleton Civic Centre from 10.30am to 1pm.

People who want to attend need to register in advance by phone 1300 305 695 or at

Article in The Singleton Argus 8 Mar 2011


Thanks to Deb and Greg Bush, we’ve obtained some further information on the minerals project related with the Exploration Licence (EL) 7696 just granted at the southern end of the Bylong Valley, and covering parts of Barigan and down through Breakfast Creek toward Rysltone. Most of the information is geological, but at least it gives you an idea what they’re looking for. You can find the updated info on the “Bylong Specific Info” page of the Bylong Mining web pages: - Click on the heading “2.5. Bylong/Barigan Minerals - EL 7696 (formerly ELA 3994) (Strategic Minerals)” in the summary list of headings at the top of the page.

From Craig

March 4, 2011

State Government rejects Kores coal mine plan for Wyong

The NSW Government today rejected the Wallarah 2 coal mine proposal near Wyong due to unresolved concerns regarding subsidence, water, ecological and heritage impacts.

This is despite a Planning Assessment Commission recommendation that it be approved.

NSW Minister for Planning, Tony Kelly, said the proponent, the Korean-based company Kores working as the Wyong Areas Coal Joint Venture, had not adequately demonstrated the mine could go ahead without unacceptable environmental risk.

Express Advocate article by Errol Smith 4 Mar 2011

Let them eat coal? Time to talk about food security

The government has a choice: let mining, climate change and urban sprawl overrun agriculture, or devise a plan to protect the lands that nourish the state.
SMH article by Debra Jopson 1 March 2011

Posted for Nell

NSW Coalition to target key coalmine licences

Monday’s Australian Financial Review carried a front-page story talking about the Coalition’s plans to review exploration licences as part of its policy relating to mining and agriculture. According to the AFR, the Coalition plans to pay close attention to Mt Penny and Doyle’s Creek as part of this process, and has promised that “…any inappropriateness… will be pursued diligently”. (From Craig)

Click here to view/download article.


Peter Austin, from “The Land” newspaper, stumbled across the BVPA, Rylstone Environment Group and other displays at the Rylstone show and has written on the theme of “we can’t eat coal” in his “Peppercorn” column this week (p38).
Click on article to enlarge.
From Craig