Tys Occhiuzzi travelled to Gunnedah in North-West NSW, for this report on the controversial Shenhua Watermark Coal Mine proposal.
UPDATED June 30: Shenhua Energy’s plans to mine for coal in the NSW Liverpool Plains region are still on the table.
The China-owned company had until today (June 30) to apply for a mining licence for an open-cut coal mine at Mount Watermark near Gunnedah. If it didn’t meet the deadline, a cancellation clause could be triggered – allowing the state government to terminate the controversial project.
Instead, Shenhua has asked for a fourth extension to its exploration licence.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro told the ABC that the company lodged the application before the deadline, with the government now to “look at it”.
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann is calling for the project to be scrapped. In a statement, she said “it’s time for the Minister for Resources John Barilaro to put the whole project out of its misery and cancel the company’s mining lease for good.”
The mine is slated to create 600 construction jobs and 400 ongoing positions over its 30-year life-span.
Regional action groups have raised concerns about the potential impact on farmland, groundwater and koala habitats, with the application deadline falling on the same day a parliamentary inquiry found that koalas could be extinct by 2050.
“To hear this today, on the day that the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Koala Populations and their Habitat released its final report, is a kick in the guts for the Liverpool Plains and Gunnedah communities who are so passionate about protecting the region’s koalas,” Ms Faehrmann said.
According to Shenhua’s own Environmental Impact Statement, the mine could potentially damage up to 43 Aboriginal archaeological sites, a fear locals share in the following video report.
— Tys Occhiuzzi @TysOcchiuzzi