Illawarra locals keep up campaign to stop Gujarat coalmine expansion
The Environmental Defender’s Office NSW has advised community group Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining Inc in a court case that will test the legality of mining company Gujarat NRE’s decision to start longwall mining in its Russell Vale colliery earlier this year.
The community near Russell Vale, just north of Wollongong, has campaigned to stop to Gujarat's massive planned expansion of its No 1 Colliery. Their concerns include the potential impact on the Illawarra’s drinking water catchment, air quality, and increased noise and truck movements in their neighbourhood.
Residents have been frustrated by the lack of community consultation from the company and the government, and are calling for a fair consultative process.
Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining spokesperson Kaye Osborn told Green Left Weekly: “The public was not given adequate notification of the application to commence longwall mining and so there was no opportunity for public comment.
“The Department of Trade and Investment and the Department of Planning and Infrastructure have failed in their responsibility to ensure that mining approvals follow clear and transparent processes and consider the impact on residential neighbourhoods.”
The group will now take its arguments to court. Osborn said: “We believe that the commencement of longwall mining by Gujarat NRE in the absence of an appropriate development consent is unlawful and irresponsible.”
The group claims one victory against the mining giant. It says its concerted lobbying stopped Gujarat’s attempt to influence the Department of Planning and Infrastructure prescribed Community Consultation Committee, and replace it with a 50 member “Community Reference Group”.
Members of Gujarat’s preferred Community Reference Group were to be appointed by the mine itself and the mechanisms to support transparency and accountability had been stripped away.
[For more details about Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining visit its Facebook page.]