Saturday, May 31, 2008

You would think we would learn by now.....

But no...............
Good old human stupidity, and short sighted greed is at it again.
No wonder we have no viable future in our present form of society!

PLANS for a huge expansion of longwall coalmining under the Sydney water catchment have emerged as a leaked NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change report urged the Government to confront the state's coalmining industry.
The proposals, part of a presentation to the Australian Stock Exchange earlier this month by Indian-owned resources company Gujarat NRE, call for longwall mining to within 500 metres of the wall of Cataract Dam near Wollongong.
The proposal, currently being assessed by the State Government, could cause widespread surface damage and endanger Sydney's water supply, says a coalition of green groups. Longwall mining operations similar to the Gujarat plans have led to subsidence that has damaged homes, dried up rivers and led to surface gas leaks.
The chairman of Gujarat NRE, Arun Kumar Jagatramka, did not reply to Herald questions about the project.
The NSW Minerals Council reacted angrily to the draft report from the climate change department. "The mining industry has been defending itself against misinformation for a long time," said the council's director of external affairs, Lancia Jordana.
Subsidence from longwall mining, in which the removal of slabs of coal hundreds of metres long causes the surface to crack and sag, was a problem being addressed by industry, Ms Jordana said.
"Where cracking occurs, you may have an area that runs dry but the independent science [shows] there is no loss of water quality, that there is in fact no loss of water at all. It flows back into the river a bit further down."
The draft climate change report said subsidence was a "major issue" causing environmental damage in the southern coalfields, and regional staff did not have the expertise to assess properly its impact.
Gujarat NRE plans to expand longwall operations in the Sydney Water Catchment beneath the Cataract River, which ran dry in 1994, largely as a result of longwall mining, but now feeds the Cataract Dam again.
Gujarat NRE acquired Elouera Colliery from BHP in December and merged it with neighbouring Avondale Colliery to create a single giant mine.
The company's documents say it intends to extract 350,000 tonnes of coking coal this year, rising to 1.3 million tonnes in 2010, with longer-term targets of 2.5 to 3 million tonnes a year, by mining areas close to the dam.
The NSW Government is yet to approve the mine extension plans, though approval has been granted for access tunnels.
It commissioned an inquiry into mining in the southern coalfields in December 2006, with the findings likely to be released next month. In its submission, the Sydney Catchment Authority said it feared 91 per cent of the catchment area would be undermined.
"The impact of the scheme will be enormous," said Jeff Angel, director of the Total Environment Centre. "It will lead to more serious cracking, more damage to river and stream beds, more damage to swamps, more cliffs collapsing, less groundwater, and a threat to the dam itself."
Environment groups, including the National Parks Association of NSW, Rivers SOS, the Colong Foundation, the Nature Conservation Council and the Wilderness Society, say longwall expansion will continue to damage rivers and drain upland swamps.

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