Bylong Valley

Information provided by the NSW Water Office indicates that if the Bylong coalmine in the Upper Hunter region proceeds, there is a real danger of the Bylong River and local creeks drying up.

The Bylong coalmine, a project of South Korean government-owned company Kepco which supplies coal to the electricity industry, involves open cut and underground extraction of up to 6.5 million tonnes of coal for a period of 25 years. The Planning and Assessment Commission’s hearing of Kepco’s application was completed in May last year and its review report was completed in July.

The Resources Regulator Lee Shearer revealed in a Budget Estimates hearing on September 1 that it is investigating whether Korean mining company KEPCO is fit and proper to hold a mining licence in New South Wales, after serious international fraud and corruption allegations against the company were made.

KEPCO is proposing to develop two open-cut coalmines in the beautiful Bylong Valley, about 55 km north-east of Mudgee in north-western NSW. The mine is expected to produce up to 6.5 million tonnes of coal a year for 25 years, commencing early next year.

Activists have called on the NSW government to cancel the exploration licence for the proposed KEPCO coalmine in the Bylong Valley after the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) Review Report slammed the project for putting at risk prime agricultural land, precious water resources, heritage values and the community.

Bylong Valley, near Mudgee in NSW, is a tranquil and secluded village. It is listed by the National Trust as a Landscape Conservation Area because of its stunning beauty and abundant prime agricultural land. But its tranquillity is under threat.

Korean state-owned miner KEPCO and its contractor Worley Parsons were prosecuted by the NSW Department of Industry's Division of Resources and Energy (DRE) in March, after it was revealed the companies had used fake photographs purporting to be of a Bylong property at which they were seeking permission to drill for coal.

The photographs were not of the property, and showed an environment completely unlike the area they were seeking permission to drill in. When DRE was alerted to this by the affected landholder, charges were laid against the companies.

About 400 people attended a public open-day at the iconic Tarwyn Park property in the beautiful Bylong Valley in the Upper Hunter on July 31. It was the day that Peter Andrews, the 76- year-old founder and expert in Natural Sequence Farming (NSF), relinquished ownership of the property.

Korean state-owned mining company KEPCO assumed ownership of the property at midnight on August 1. But Andrews has vowed to stay on to fight for the land's protection.

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