Dendrobium Damage Update #4 – more cracked rocks

South32 has finished mining Longwall 17 in “Area 3b” in the Dendrobium Mine, which of course is on unceded Dharawal Country, and just north of the Avon Reservoir.
Your faithful friends here at POWA have trawled through the End of Panel report, and distilled some Dendrobium Damage for you. Spoiler alert: longwall mining is highly destructive, and South32’s contractors only appear to have surveyed a small part of the undermined (and adjacent) area.


All images are taken from the Longwall 17 End of Panel Report



If you’re super keen and want to read the report yourself, you can find it here.

Dendrobium Damage #3 – this is what a cracked stream looks like

South32 has finished mining Longwall 17 in “Area 3b” in the Dendrobium Mine, which of course is on unceded Dharawal Country, and just north of the Avon Reservoir.
Your faithful friends here at POWA have trawled through the End of Panel report, and distilled some Dendrobium Damage for you. Spoiler alert: longwall mining is highly destructive, and South32’s contractors only appear to have surveyed a small part of the undermined (and adjacent) area.


Images taken straight from the Longwall 17 End of Panel Report


Stay tuned for update #4!

If you’re super keen and want to read the report yourself, you can find it here.

Dendrobium Damage Update #2

South32 has finished mining Longwall 17 in “Area 3b” in the Dendrobium Mine, which of course is on unceded Dharawal Country, and just north of the Avon Reservoir.

Your faithful friends here at POWA have trawled through the End of Panel report, and distilled some Dendrobium Damage for you. Spoiler alert: longwall mining is highly destructive, and South32’s contractors only appear to have surveyed a small part of the undermined (and adjacent) area.


Update #2

The average daily inflow to Area 3b during Longwall 17 extraction was 5.2 megalitres per day (ML/day) – this represents 64% of total mine inflow for the period.

Compared with the previous longwall, the total mine inflow increased by 23% and the inflow in Area 3B increased by 36%.

Seepage losses from Avon Dam have been estimated by regional and local scale numerical models to be in the range 0.09 to 0.69 ML/day as at the end of Longwall 17.

Longwall 17 passed beneath, or within 400m of, Swamps 14, 23, 149 and 35a.

  • A Level 3 TARP for shallow groundwater remains in place at Swamp 14 from previous Longwalls.
  • Shallow groundwater at Swamp 23 has been increased to a Level 3 TARP.
  • Soil Moisture at Swamp 14 has been increased to a Level 3 TARP.

Reduction in aquatic habitat for over 2 years at Donalds Castle Creek and WC21 constitutes a Level 3 TARP trigger.


In summary — we are losing loads of water into the mine due to subsidence effects. Endangered Upland Swamps are being drained dry by this mining, reducing their ability to act as filters and holders of water in the ecosystem. Lastly, Donalds Castle Creek is being trashed and the aquatic life there is dying.

Stay tuned for update #3!

If you’re super keen and want to read the report yourself, you can find it here.

Dendrobium Damage Update #1

South32 has finished mining Longwall 17 in “Area 3b” in the Dendrobium Mine, which of course is on unceded Dharawal Country, and just north of the Avon Reservoir.

Your faithful friends here at POWA have trawled through the End of Panel report, and distilled some Dendrobium Damage for you. Spoiler alert: longwall mining is highly destructive, and South32’s contractors only appear to have surveyed a small part of the undermined (and adjacent) area.


Update #1

The extracted longwall has a length of 1901 metres, a void width of 305m, and a maximum cutting height up to 3.9m.

During the extraction of Longwall 17, forty new surface impacts were identified.

  • Thirty of these impacts were observed on natural features.
  • The remaining ten impacts were observed on built features such as fire roads and other access tracks

Only two out of five Aboriginal cultural heritage sites located within the Subject Area were visited.


In summary — a bloody big longwall, and a suspiciously low number of identified impacts over such a large footprint.

Also, the surveyors identified ONLY FIVE cultural sites in the area – and only checked on 40% of them. We know first nations folks in the Illawarra refute this quantitative, piecemeal approach to evaluating the impact of mining on the cultural integrity of the landscape.

Stay tuned for update #2!

If you’re super keen and want to read the report yourself, you can find it here.

Peabody’s Metropolitan Mine pollutes Camp Gully Creek in the Royal National Park, the latest in a long string of coal pollution events in the Illawarra

You’ve all no doubt heard by now about Camp Gully Creek in the Royal National Park being choked with thick black coal sludge, released from the Metropolitan Mine near Helensburgh. Thankfully the NSW Environment Minister seems royally pissed off and says he will throw the book at the mine. Here’s hoping.

We’ve compiled a trip down memory lane of coal mine pollution events in the waterways of the Illawarra over the last 6 years or so:

August 2022 Camp Gully Creek — Peabody Metropolitan Mine

February 2022 Bellambi Creek — Wollongong Coal Russell Vale Colliery

https://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/7638501/epa-investigates-polluted-illawarra-waterways-after-storm/

2020 Brandy and Water Creek — South32 Dendrobium Mine

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-01/mine-fined-for-dumping-coal-sludge-into-mount-kembla-creek/100045216

2016 Bellambi Creek — Wollongong Coal Russell Vale Colliery

https://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/3961101/black-creek-video-takes-off-stirs-epa/

https://www.facebook.com/IllawarraResidentsforResponsibleMining/videos/

https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/news/media-releases/2017/epamedia17090601

DENDROBIUM BITES THE DUST – South32 cancels expansion plan

In a surprise announcement this week, South32 have abandoned their plans to expand the Dendrobium Mine. Workers at the mine were apparently told this news via text message.

While South32 has admitted the expansion did not stack up economically — a something POWA has been questioning for some time — its also clear that the strength of opposition to this expansion over the last 3.5 years in the Illawarra has played no small part.

POWA held a celebratory demonstration outside the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment office in Wollongong today.

A HUGE thank-you to all of you who helped in this fight ❤

POWA one of 35 groups to endorse “Emergency Climate Action: No more coal and gas; 43% carbon emissions cut by 2030 is not enough” rally in Sydney today

From Green Left Weekly:

Climate activists from 35 grassroots groups came together for a march on August 7 to send a strong message to the Anthony Albanese Labor government that its recently legislated 43% cut to emissions by 2030 target is not enough to avert catastrophic climate change.

Climate scientists say Australia should set a target of 75% emissions cut by 2030.

The marchers demanded:

  • No new fossil fuel projects, including Kurri Kurri, Narrabri, Beetaloo and Burrup Hub;
  • Stop the power companies profiteering: 100% publicly owned renewable energy by 2030;
  • Climate jobs and a just transition now;
  • First Nations justice: Stop Santos’ attack on Gomeroi Native Title;
  • Defend the right to Protest: stop police repression of climate protesters; and
  • Protect ecosystems and stop logging native forests.

The march was endorsed by: Fireproof Australia; Knitting Nannas Sydney; NSW Nature Conservation Council; Protect Our Water Alliance; Amnesty International Australia; Stop Adani Sydney; Water for Rivers; Maritime Union Australia Sydney; Greens; Socialist Alliance; Extinction Rebellion Drummers; No Incinerator for Western Sydney; Wage Peace and Disrupt Wars; Sydney Extinction Rebellion; Stop Coal Seam Gas Sydney; Justice Action; Bob Brown Foundation; Sydney Industrial Workers of the World; Rank and File Action (Sydney University); Uni Students for Climate Justice; Kids Against Gas; Australian Mothers Against Gas; Western Sydney Direct Action; NSW GasBan; North West Protection Advocacy; Latin America Social Forum; No more incinerators Matraville; Workers for Climate Action; National Tertiary Education Union Sydney University branch; National Union Students; Black Flag Sydney; Lithgow Environment Group; Democratic Kurdish Community Centre of NSW; and Save the Bay.

Speakers included: Rilka from Blockade Australia, NSW Greens MLC Abigail Boyd; Veronica Koman, from Amnesty International Australia; Maritime Union Australia Sydney branch secretary Paul Keating; Dr Rada Germanos, from Protect Our Water Alliance (POWA); Dorothee Babeck, from the Bob Brown Foundation; and Paddy Gibson.

Illawarra Mercury: $15k fine for Helensburgh mine’s water pollution ‘not enough’ for environment

Environmentalists say a $15,000 fine handed to coal miner Peabody in June for polluting a creek that leads into the Royal National Park is inadequate, and won’t protect the waterways as potential habitat for reintroduced platypus.

The penalty from the Environment Protection Authority was given to Peabody after its failure to properly maintain a dam at its Metropolitan colliery at Helensburgh allowed polluted water to run off into the Camp Gully Creek during heavy rains in January.

The creek flows into the Hacking River then into the national park.

Sutherland Shire Environment Centre spokesperson Dr Catherine Reynolds said the area was potential platypus habitat but members had been raising concerns about mine runoff for years.

“The Royal is one of Australia’s best loved national parks yet there is coal visible on the banks of the Hacking River,” she said.

Kaye Osborn of the Protect Our Water Alliance (POWA) said fines for mining pollution must be higher if they are to provide a genuine disincentive.

Read the full article here

Pressure on NSW Planning Minister in Dendrobium Extension process

“NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts has confirmed the economic case for a controversial mine extension will be reviewed, amid calls for greater transparency in the assessment process…

Former NSW Supreme Court judge Anthony Whealy SC believed the emails exchanged between the Department of Planning and South32 had affected the public’s perception of the assessment process.

“I have no doubt that the perception has been given here, whether it is true or not, that special treatment has been given to South32 in this instance,” Mr Whealy said.”

Read the full ABC Illawarra article here

Listen to Anthony Whealy SC’s interview on ABC Illawarra here