The Coal Free Southern Highlands’ submission on Hume Coal Water Quality Impact is just plain wrong

27 September 2017


Hume Coal said today that a report from Dr Ian Wright for Coal Free Southern Highlands (CFSH) was wrong in trying to equate the now closed Berrima Colliery with the proposed Hume Coal project.

Greig Duncan, Project Director, said the assumptions in Dr Wright’s submission bears no resemblance to the Hume Coal project as outlined in the EIS.  Furthermore, the Hume Coal proposal is not comparable to closed mines quoted in the CFSH submission.

“Dr Wright’s submission is based on a false assumption that the Hume Coal project will discharge large volumes of untreated mine water.  This is incorrect and misleading, and consequently the conclusions reached in the submission are plain wrong”

The Hume Coal project:

  • Is designed for zero discharge of coal stockpile water – all coal stockpile contact water is captured for beneficial reuse around the site.
  • Does not rely on sealing the mine with bulkheads following mine closure to prevent the ongoing discharge of water into rivers and streams.
  • Will not discharge mine water to waterways post-closure, irrespective of bulkheads.
  • Will amend all coal reject materials with crushed limestone as a precaution, to eliminate the potential for adverse changes to groundwater chemistry.

Mr Duncan said examples of mines quoted by Dr Wright (Berrima Colliery and Canyon Colliery) are not relevant to the Hume Coal project as they access coal from ‘adits’ (see Figure 1).

The Hume Coal project will use ‘drifts’ to tunnel down to the coal (see Figure 2).

The submission is deficient by assuming all discharged mine water will have been exposed to coal and coal reject materials under extreme worst-case laboratory-simulated conditions.  Nothing could be further from the truth, said Mr Duncan.

“Hume Coal has used the testing, conducted under extreme worst-case laboratory conditions, in order to design the mine precisely so that these impacts can never occur.  It is extremely dishonest of CFSH to use the laboratory test data in the manner in which they have.

“Council appears more interested in talking about the Berrima Colliery, rather than the serious matters raised in the NSW Government audit of the Sydney drinking water catchment. The audit which highlighted serious water quality concerns from water and sewage infrastructure within the Wingecarribee Shire.”

There are 15 Local Government Areas in the Sydney Water Catchment serving 120,000 people, yet the Wingecarribee Shire alone had the dubious honour of recording approx. 60% of all water and sewerage plant failures (overflows, redirections, etc.) in the catchment between 2013 and 2016.

“When it comes to water quality Council should stick to the main game of ‘cleaning up its own act’ rather than providing a platform for anti-coal activists.”

– ENDS –

Ben Fitzsimmons

M 0448 806 450