Australia: Planning Officials Approve Controversial Hunter Valley Mine Expansion

by | 08.25.2015 | 8:41am

On Monday, New South Wales planning officials made a preliminary recommendation supporting a controversial Hunter Valley mine expansion, rejecting fears it will force massive thoroughbred studs in the area to move.

The Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association issued the following statement in response to the decision:

The Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association (HTBA) is very disappointed at the Department of Planning's recommendation that favors one mine over the potential destruction of a world renown sustainable agricultural industry and the thousands of jobs it supports throughout the Hunter Valley.

“This is the same department that disregarded the advice of nine Independent Government experts last time in favor of this mine and was appropriately overruled by the Drayton South Determination PAC in October last year ” Dr Cameron Collins said.

The Determination PAC in 2014 rejected Anglo American's Drayton South proposal because:

1) The proposal did not demonstrate that it would not adversely impact on the operations of Coolmore and Darley;
2) Once the damage occurs to the operations of the studs it is irreversible;
3) The economic benefits of the project did not outweigh the risks to the wine, equine and tourism industries in the Hunter Valley.

The PAC determined, correctly, that this project was not in the public interest.

Nothing has changed.  This mine remains less than 1km from the operations of the Darley and Coolmore horse studs. Concerns regarding impacts on water, blasting, noise, dust, equine and human health, destruction to lands and threatened species, visual amenity and the reputation of one of the world's leading thoroughbred breeding industries remain.

“Each and every reason the previous mine was refused remains valid today. They are compelling reasons why Anglo American's second Drayton South application should be rejected. Once damage to the studs occurs, studs which are the epicenter of our entire industry, it will be irreversible.” Dr Collins said

No effort has been made to properly assess the socio-economic consequences of this mine or the impacts of this mine on the operations of Coolmore and Darley.

“This is an unacceptable situation.  We expect the Department to be an independent arbiter and to apply the highest levels of scrutiny and rigorous scientific triple bottom line assessment to these matters at arms length from the Proponent.”

Allowing this one mine to proceed will devastate the Hunter's thoroughbred breeding industry and the thousands of jobs it supports in the Hunter Valley.

“How can we have faith in the planning process? Despite a rejection last year, Anglo American is allowed to submit any number of applications regardless of their consequences to strategic agricultural lands, industries and our environment while ordinary landholders are stripped of their appeal rights.”

During the Premier's and Minister Stoke's visit to the Hunter Valley in April of this year, Premier Baird acknowledged that “mining cannot go everywhere, more protections should be put in place and we need to get the balance right.”

“It is time the Government delivered on its promises to protect strategic agricultural industries, land and water before it's too late.  We hope sense will prevail and the Government's Independent experts find as their predecessors did, that this mine poses unacceptable risks, will destroy entire sustainable industries and is not in the public interest.” Dr Collins said.

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