It is bad enough when coal mining in Queensland and NSW is allowed by State and Governments to ruin prime agricultural land. When coal mining threatens to also 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 risks turning Aldershot and the north of Maryborough into ghost towns.
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 coal mining in West Virginia in the USA found that the incidence of chronic illness in coal mining communities grows as coal production increases1.
Coal mining 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