Australia approves $1.2 billion coal mine in New South Wales

July 8, 2015

The $1.2 billion Shenhua Watermark coal mine in New South Wales Australia has won federal government approval despite claims that it would damage some of the most productive farm land in Australia.

The mine was approved by Environment Minister Greg Hunt who said he approved the project with “18 of the strictest conditions in Australian history which fully incorporate all advice” from an independent scientific committee, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The mine, to be located 25 km south-east of the northern NSW town of Gunnedah, is owned by China's state-controlled Shenhua Group. It is expected to produce as much as 268 million tonnes of coal during its 30-year life.

“There will be no impact on the availability of water for agriculture,” Hunt said in a statement. “The conditions I have imposed limit water use to less than 0.09 per cent of available groundwater – that's less than 1/1000th of the resource and less than the amount of water from one agricultural bore.”

The minister also said the mine would be restricted to the ridge country around Mount Watermark rather than the black-soil plains. Shenhua would have to stop work if any agricultural water supplies were affected and make good on any losses, he said.

“Today’s decision to approve the Watermark Project is the final, irrefutable confirmation there will be no adverse impacts on the region's groundwater and impacts on sensitive ecological areas have been appropriately managed and offset,” Paul Jackson, the company’s project manager, said.

The company said it will now develop operating and management plans to be ready for assessment by the December quarter of this year.
However Fiona Simson, president of NSW Farmers, said farmers would not drop their opposition to the mine.



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