Sunday, May 28, 2017

Colton coal mine will turn Aldershot into a mining town

Posted by Jim on May 18, 2010

It is bad enough when coal mining in Queensland and NSW is allowed by State and Governments to ruin prime agricultural land.

When coalmining threatens to destroy the lifestyle of the 500 residents of Aldershot, just north of Maryborough, it’s time to call a halt.

The escalation of open-cut coal mining is creating environmental and social problems as well as alienating agricultural land. The Colton mine has not yet started, but it will be to the detriment of Aldershot and its residents. The mine will be only 3 kilometres from the village. The Colton project will turn Aldershot and the north of Maryborough into a coalmining town.

This is an example of mining moving from remote regions of the state to more intensively settled areas like Maryborough and Hervey Bay.

Mining coal so close to established towns will also cause health problems. A 2008 study of the effect of coalmining in West Virginia in the USA found that the incidence of chronic illness in coalmining communities grows as coal production increases1.

Coalmining produces carbon dioxide, methane and sulphuric acid as well as dust and will interfere with the water table. The mine will put pressure on water resources in the region. There are wetlands, which the Colton mine will also affect, as well as the Susan River which flows into the Mary River estuary.

Initially the developer, Northern Energy Corporation, told the community in April this year that mining would last 8 to 10 years. That estimate did not add up. In February, the estimated reserve was reported as being 57.4 million tons. NEC says that it will be shipping out 500,000 tonnes of coal a year once the open-cut mine starts up. Do the maths: the mine is good for a century as it spreads to the northern suburbs of Maryborough.

Planning legislation must stop open cut coal mines devastating agricultural areas, near residential areas or near environmentally sensitive areas, especially given the industry’s appalling record on environmental management and site rehabilitation.

1. M Hendryx and M Ahern, “Relations between Health Indicators and Residential Proximity to Coal Mining in West Virginia,” April 2008, The American Journal of Public Health.

Thanks for contribution to this post by Drew Hutton

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Coal, prime agricultural land, and foreign ownership

Posted by Jim on April 19, 2010

My media checks brought up on Friday the issue of foreign purchasing of Australian agricultural land under relaxed FIRB rules [Business Week].  The Australian Greens’ website contains a couple of relevant speeches by Greens Senator Scott Ludlum on the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Amendment Bill in February and Bob Brown last year on BHP-Chinaco merger.

In my view, we should be rather more careful in the national interest about allowing foreign control of Australian resources. The relaxation of control of Australian interests and resources is a product of a naive mindset about free trade, deregulation, and unfettered markets that extends from the 1970s-1980s debates about tariff protection to such matters as the too-ready importation of skilled migrants at the expense of training Australians.  That provision has generated the practice of importing labour under Section 457 visas, which has produced some  examples of exploitative practices.  And it has the high potential to undermine Australian workers’ conditions and wages.  On the question of skilled migration, I applaud Bob Brown for his call to slow down the rate of skilled migration and train more workers in Australia. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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