Coal-seam mining by stealth?

September 24, 2010
Protest at Metropolitan Colliery, October 2009. Photo:

Leaked documents revealed by the September 23 Sydney Morning Herald show large coal companies colluded to begin coal-seam gas mining under Sydney’s drinking water catchment.

The documents show gas-drilling company Apex Energy NL agreed to help Peabody Energy distance itself from bad publicity arising out of a proposal to begin coal-seam gas mining at the Metropolitan Colliery.

Apex was to expand the colliery without mentioning the coal-seam gas aspect of the expansion, which had the potential to contaminate water supplies.

Total Environment Centre executive director Jeff Angel said: “The company admits its longwall mining plan in the protected Sydney water catchment was controversial and then moved to disguise its involvement in gas drilling.”

“What makes it even worse is that the Department of Planning was complicit in agreeing to remove the gas drilling from the Metropolitan mine impact statement which protected the company from bad publicity.”

Coal-seam gas mining extracts methane by boring shafts into coal-bearing rock. It uses highly toxic chemicals in the process including organic solvents like benzene. Opponents of the process say it destroys fresh water supplies and endangers agriculture and people’s health.

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