The Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) for the Hume Coal Project will be placed on exhibition for community comment on Friday 31 March.
Project Director Greig Duncan said the exhibition will also trigger an unprecedented information and consultation program in the Southern Highlands.
“The EIS proves the proposal will have minimal impact on the environment, yet create hundreds of real jobs for people in this great region, and across the state” he said.
Duncan agreed there’s been a lot of misinformation about the Project and says the EIS exhibition will go a long way to answering any questions locals might have.
“All we’re asking is that members of the Highlands community get the facts, make up their own mind, and have their say… and ignore the scare campaign we know will follow.
“Our challenge to the scare-mongers is to base their arguments on facts not fiction, on science not opinion, on evidence not emotion.”
Greig Duncan emphasised that the Hume Coal mine will be underground, not open cut, first workings only, not longwall, and has nothing to do with coal seam gas. “What it will do is create up to 400 jobs a year in construction and 300 full-time positions during operations.”
As well as information sessions about the proposal, Hume Coal is embarking on a series of on-line discussion forums about the mining proposal.
Greig Duncan said the company had decided on this approach to reach out to as many people in the local community as possible. “We want to make information about our plans as accessible as we can to as many people as we can, so people can ask questions and make up their own minds. The forum site is at www.yoursay.humecoal.com.au.
“Those who want to make a formal submission to the Department of Planning & Environment need to do so through the Major Projects website – http://majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/ – where the full EIS is also available.
Asked about the two big issues raised by opponents, threats to water and air quality, Duncan was quick to respond.
“We want the community to look at the science and the evidence. The EIS proves the mine will have no effect on the quantity or quality of water supply for any community, in the Highlands or Sydney. In full production the mine will use just one gigalitre of water a year. The long-term quality and overall quantity of the Sydney-Nepean groundwater resource will not be impaired by the mining operation.
“Of around 1950 registered bores in the Wingecarribee Shire, under 5% will be affected, less than five each year over the life of the mine. The effects on these bores vary, but under the ‘make good’ provisions of the state government’s Aquifer Interference Policy, Hume Coal is required to ensure landowners have a continuous supply of water.”
“The studies also show the effect of the mine on existing air quality, even under the worst weather conditions, will be negligible… and that means no threat to health.”
Hume Coal plans to extract around 50 million tonnes of material from the Wongawilli Seam over 23 years, producing approximately 39 million tonnes of saleable coal, of which 55% will be metallurgical coal with the balance industrial (thermal) coal.
The Hume Coal project is owned by subsidiary of POSCO Australia. POSCO is a leading multinational steel manufacturer and one of the largest buyers of Australian coal and iron ore.
The Hume Coal EIS is on exhibition for comment shortly.