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Digging in – Shenhua mine go-ahead protests

MAIN PHOTO: FIGHT TO THE DEATH: From left, farmers Tom Bailey, Susan Lyle and Tim Duddy say the Liverpool Plains community will continue to fight against Shenhua Watermark’s proposed coal mine. Photo: Barry Smith 080715BSE21FURIOUS farmers have warned they are prepared to “go to war” to stop Shenhua Watermark digging a $1 billion coal mine in the nation’s foodbowl.
Nanjing Night Net

Opponents of the Chinese state-owned company’s controversial mine reacted savagely upon learning the project had received Commonwealth approval.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced yesterday he had approved the mine on July 4, subject to“18 of the strictest conditions in Australian history”.

The irony of Mr Hunt signing-off on the mine on the same day the government released its white paper into agricultural competitiveness was not lost on farmers.

Caroona Coal Action Group spokesman and farmer Tim Duddy said the mine’s open-cut pits, reaching hundreds of metres into the earth, would interfere with aquifers.

“It’s been war for a long time, but now it’s really war,” he said.

“This community will do whatever it takes.

“Once the Liverpool Plains is harmed – and it will be – it will no longer be about co-existence, but sequential land use and the destruction of agriculture.”

Shenhua is seeking planning permission to extract up to 268 million tonnes of coal from deposits at Breeza, south of Gunnedah, over a 30-year period. The project received approval from both the state government and the independent Planning Assessment Committee before being referred to the Commonwealth.

In February, Mr Hunt travelled to the Liverpool Plains to meet with concerned farmers and promptly “stopped the clock” on the mine’s approval process to get additional advice.

The project was then assessed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act’s so-called “water trigger”, which looked specifically at its impact on aquifers.

Mr Hunt maintained that there would be “no impact on the availability of water for agriculture” and the region’s famed black soil plains were “off limits for mining”.

He said no fewer than six reviews, including two by the Independent Expert Scientific Committee, had concluded “groundwater impacts are likely to be smaller” than previously predicted.

“The conditions I have imposed include the power to stop work and stop mining if there are any impacts on agricultural water supply,” he said.

“If this occurs, the mine must immediately provide an alternative water supply to farmers.”

Source: Northern Daily Leader

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