#Springvale Coal mine#Centennial Coal#Planning Assessment C

Mine extension could be polluting local water, Sydney court hears

An Australian coal mine is at the centre of a legal dispute after a court heard that an already approved extension pollutes local drinking water. Permi...

Dale Benton
|May 9|magazine4 min read

An Australian coal mine is at the centre of a legal dispute after a court heard that an already approved extension pollutes local drinking water.

Permission for the extension of Springvale Coal mine, near Lithgow, Australia, was granted by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) back in September 2015 but the Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) has claimed that the discharge from the mine was not fully considered.

“There is an enormous amount of discharge every day, of mine water which is highly saline and contains heavy metals that will be discharged into the water catchment,” said Sue Higginson, principal solicitor, EDO.

This, Ms Higginson believes, is a contravention of a clause in the State Environmental Planning Policy, which necessitates that any development must have “a neutral or beneficial impact on the quality of water.”

Springvale Coal mine, near Lithgow, Australia, is owned by Centennial Coal and has been operational since 1992.

A Centennial Coal spokeswoman denied claims of water contamination and said the extension faced a five year assessment process before receiving approval.

"The Planning Assessment Commission imposed rigorous performance measures for discharge water which were regarded as appropriate by both the EPA and Department of Planning", the spokeswoman said.

She said the court challenge put the jobs of 300 workers at the Springvale mine at risk.

"After fighting to secure our Springvale approval, we will fight to retain it and protect the livelihoods of our local community," she said.

Hearings are expected to continue at the Land and Environment Court on Tuesday 10 May, 2016.

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Read the May 2016 issue of Mining Global magazine.