As the second round of public submissions on the proposed Terminal 4 (T4) coal port development in Newcastle closes today, mining affected community groups have spoken out against the project.
The Hunter Central Rivers Alliance is made up of 40 community groups across the region, and aims to protect communities from unwanted coal and gas mining projects. The Alliance is opposed to the T4 project, arguing it will dramatically increase mining activity along the Hunter coal chain, which will impact heavily on local communities, and on land and water resources.
Convenor of the HCRA, Steve Phillips, said: “More coal exports means more coal mining, and the impacts of coal mining are already at crisis levels for many communities in our region.”
“Communities around Muswellbrook and Singleton are regularly warned not to breath their air due to particle pollution from coal mining – and that's with the existing mines”, said Phillips. “What will the air in our region be like when there are ten new coal mines required to supply the port?”
T4, originally a 120 million tonne per annum proposal, has been downgraded to an initial 70 million tonnes. Average saleable coal production from Hunter mines is about 7 million tonnes per annum.
Bev Smiles from the Hunter Communities Network, one of the HCRA groups, raised concerns about the impact of mining proliferation on the region's waterways.
“A healthy Hunter River is essential for the industries that depend on it, including vineyards, dairying, vegetables, fodder, beef and horse breeding. The quality and quantity of water in the Hunter is already heavily impacted by coal mining, and a major increase in mining activity to supply T4 would make it worse”, said Ms Smiles.
“We need a cumulative assessment of the impacts of the proposed expansion of mining in our region”, concluded Phillips. “If that is not done as part of the T4 assessment – when will it be done?”
T4 is a project of Port Waratah Coal Services, which is controlled by global mining giants Glencore (Xstrata) and Rio Tinto. The Environmental Assessment for the project was placed on public exhibition in March 2012. The Preferred Project Report has been on exhibition since 16th September, closing today. The project requires approval from both the NSW Planning Minister and the Federal Environment Minister before it can proceed.