19 April 2022
Wollongong, New South Wales — Protect Our Water Alliance condemns the latest approval for coal mining expansions within the Greater Sydney Water Catchment. Wollongong Coal’s Wongawilli Colliery has received NSW Government approval to build its North West Mains Development – a 7km long underground road beneath Avon Reservoir. Avon Dam is Sydney’s second largest dam, after Warragamba Dam, and is the only source of water supply to over 310,000 residents and businesses in the Illawarra region.
The Department of Planning and Environment approval document notes that 90% of submissions opposed this expansion.
Protect Our Water Alliance (POWA) spokesperson Rada Germanos said “Wollongong Coal admits they want to build this underground highway to access more coal deeper within our water catchment, and to keep their Wongawilli Colliery going for another 30 years.”
Wollongong Coal owns both the Russell Vale Colliery, and the Wongawilli Colliery, near Dapto. Both mines produce metallurgical coal, 100% of which is exported to its parent company in India. Wongawilli Colliery has been in care and maintenance mode since 2019, following a number of safety concerns forcing the closure of the mine. Prior to this closure, mine workers at the mine were amongst the most casualised and lowest paid in the state, with conditions improving only after a concerted union campaign.
“The NSW Government continues to approve coal mining expansions in this state, including beneath the water supply for Sydney and the Illawarra, leaving a legacy of catchment damage, water loss and contamination, an eternal cost of mining for future generations to pay.”
“The upcoming decision to approve or reject the mammoth South32 Dendrobium Mine expansion will fall to the NSW Planning Minister after cynical legislative changes crushed the community and Independent Planning Commission decision. Will there be any public accountability on this next major decision, or will it be yet another bin fire example of a ‘captain’s pick’, with only the interests of mining corporations at heart?”