Wollongong, New South Wales — Over 40 people attended a convoy touring mining-related damage to the water catchment on Sunday February 2nd, organised by community group Protect Our Water Alliance (POWA).
The community convoy started at Wollongong Railway Station, before travelling to Allan’s Creek in Unanderra, where over 5 million litres of water daily are discharged into the creek from the Dendrobium Mine in Mt Kembla. It then travelled to Redbank Creek in Picton, where longwall mining from the Tahmoor Colliery has caused extensive cracking in the rock of the creekbed. The convoy finished at Cataract Dam, where extensive mining operations have occurred beneath the reservoir since the 1970s. Cataract Dam is currently only 26% full.
Greater Sydney is the only region in the world where long wall mining occurs beneath vital water catchment areas. In a time of severe drought, water restrictions and bush fires, reservoirs in the Catchment continue to dwindle – reservoirs in the Illawarra region are currently between 25 and 45% full.
POWA spokesperson Dr Rada Germanos, said “Underground longwall mining is causing subsidence and surface-to-seam fractures in rock. This has drained creeks and swamps, and is destroying carbon-capturing ecosystems, as well as sites sacred to Yuin and Dharawal peoples.”
“A recent report from the Office of the Chief Scientist estimated that just two of the mines operating in the catchment are causing the daily loss of 8 million litres of water. Other studies have estimated that the water loss from catchment mining is as high as 34 million litres per day. This poses clear threat to our region’s water security into the future.”
POWA is calling for a permanent ban on mining underneath the Greater Sydney Water Catchment. Unauthorised entry into the protected Special Areas can incur a $44,000 fine, however coal mines continue to operate beneath these areas.
Two mines, Dendrobium and Russell Vale, are seeking NSW State Government approval for proposed expansions despite mounting community concern about their effects on the water catchment.