Campaign group Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining (IRRM) have been told to pay $40,000 before its case challenging the expansion of a coalmine can be heard in the Land and Environment Court.
Coalmining company Gujarat is seeking approval to expand its coal mine in the residential area of Russell Vale, a suburb of Wollongong. The expansion will mean the company will mine seven times more coal a year compared to current levels, increasing the output to 3 million tonnes a year.
Gujarat plans to use longwall mining, a controversial method that can cause the ground above to subside. In the past, longwall mining has caused the cracking of riverbeds and the draining of lakes in NSW. Residents are particularly concerned because mining will take place under a water catchment area.
Because the expansion is part of an existing mine that has Part 3a major project approval, the expansion may be allowed to proceed without a development or major project approval.
IRRM took the case to court to challenge the legality of this.
IRRM pokesperson Kaye Osborn said: “The judge confirmed that the case was indeed one brought in the public interest, however ordered $40,000 in security in response to Gujarat's request for a $75,000 costs order.
“This is a very disappointing outcome for people who care about the impact of this expanding mine on the environment and the surrounding residential suburbs. It would be a great shame if this matter never sees the light of day in court due to Gujarat's security for costs order.”
The group does not know whether it will be able to come up with the money or be forced to abandon the case.
Osborn said: “IRRM will this week ask the state government to ensure that adequate time is available for the community to understand and comment on the proposal, and ask that the exhibition of the proposal not be launched until after the Christmas/New Year holiday period.”
[For more information visit the group's Facebook page.]