4th April, 2023
New South32 report details permanent damage to swamps and creeks by Dendrobium Mine
Wollongong, New South Wales — Further detail on the ongoing extensive damage caused by South32’s Dendrobium Mine has come to light, showing sustained damage to creeks, swamps and waterfalls close to the edge of Lake Avon. The mining multinational published its Longwall 18 End of Panel Report (1) at the end of 2022, documenting the fresh damage caused by its longwall mining operations within the Special Areas of the Greater Sydney Water Catchment.
Detailed in this report are impacts on streams, creeks, upland swamps, and waterfalls in the Longwall 18 footprint, which measures 1000m x 300m, or the size of 220 rugby league fields. The report documents 24 new identified surface impacts, all of which were observed 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 the most up-to-date evidence of the incredible damage that South32’s longwall mining is causing in our water catchment areas. South32 ripped out this longwall in five months, but they have left behind permanent damage to the landscape and ecology of the area.”
“This report details significant and sustained damage to all of the upland swamps in the survey area, with the worst impacts on Swamp 1B. There is also clear documentation of damage to Donalds Castle Creek and Wongawilli Creek, with reduction in water pooling and reduction in terrestrial and aquatic habitat. The most galling part is that all of this damage is just another chapter in the long archive of environmental destruction that has been pre-approved by the NSW Department of Planning”
“These swamps and creeks are vital to the health of the ecosystems of the Illawarra. And we know that these swamps and creeks, once cracked and damaged, don’t recover. This report gives us real-time evidence from South32 themselves of the damage that longwall mining is causing each and every day. This is why we are calling for a stop to mining in the water catchment now, not just an end to new expansions or mines – because our environment is getting smashed right here and right now under the current approvals.”
The recent NSW Election saw the issue of mining in the water catchment raised at many community candidates forums. The newly-elected Labor MP for Heathcote, Maryanne Stuart, has publicly stated her opposition to mining expansions in the water catchment regions. However, the newly-elected Minns Government still supports coal mining within these sensitive areas.
“The recent election result is a welcome rejection of the former Perrotet government, one which tried to ram through the now-ditched Dendrobium Mine Expansion under SSI status, with the backing of One Nation’s Mark Latham. Will our re-elected Labor MPs Ryan Park and Paul Scully stand up for the special, sensitive places of our region, or will they continue to support the broken planning processes that rubber-stamp the destruction of our local environment and water catchment?”
An example of photos from the Report, detailing damage to waterways in the Longwall 18 footprint (p 30):