Media Release: New report details damning environmental destruction by Dendrobium Mine

Wollongong, New South Wales — Confronting images of recent environmental destruction by South32’s Dendrobium Mine have come to light, showing cracked streams and rockfalls within the Special Areas of the Greater Sydney Water Catchment. The mining multinational published its Longwall 17 End of Panel Report (1) earlier this year, documenting the immediate environmental impacts of this particular area of mining in Area 3b. 

Detailed in this report are impacts on streams, creeks, upland swamps, access roads, water losses, as well as documented Aboriginal heritage sites. The report documents 40 identified new surface impacts, 75% of which were on “natural features”.

South32 recently withdrew its application for a 20 year extension to the Dendrobium Mine, but will continue to conduct longwall mining within the water catchment for several more years.

Protect Our Water Alliance (POWA) spokesperson Dr Rada Germanos said “This report provides us with real-time evidence of the horrific damage that South32 is causing within our water catchment. It is incredible to read such a long document that lists cracked stream after cracked stream, dry swamp after dry swamp, and realise that all of this destruction has been approved by the Department of Planning.”

“Furthermore, only two of the five documented Aboriginal heritage sites were visited in the post-mining survey. First Nations people have said time and time again that longwall mining affects the cultural integrity of the landscape, and here we see an incredibly poor effort by South32 to even bother to acknowledge their destruction of these places.”

“While water drinkers in Sydney and the Illawarra are relieved that the expansion of the Dendrobium Mine will not go ahead, we remain deeply concerned that damage to our water catchment continues every day until the mining ceases.

This consent to destroy has been provided by successive NSW Governments. It is simply not good enough to allow multinational companies to trash these ecosystems, and document their destruction in these dry, detached reports. As the 2023 State Election draws closer, we ask, do the Labor or Liberal parties care enough about clean drinking water for the 5 million people of Greater Sydney to overhaul our planning laws, and stop this destruction by stopping mining in our water catchment?”

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.

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