Coal terminal protests continue in Newcastle

A group of Newcastle residents opposed to a fourth coal terminal in Newcastle have handed out 15,000 leaflets to local residents.

The Coal Terminal Action Group (CTAG) say they want to put pressure on the government to stop the expansion of Newcastle’s coal terminal, Newcastle Herald reported.

"This is the biggest decision affecting our quality of life in Newcastle,’’ CTAG spokeswoman Cathy Burgess said.

‘‘A fourth coal terminal will have irreversible impacts on the health of our children and the air we breathe, so we’re letting the people of Newcastle know who is responsible for this important decision.’’

‘‘In pressing ahead with the assessment of this unpopular development, the NSW government is demonstrating contempt for the people of Newcastle, our environment and our health,’’ Burgess said.

In 2009, Port Waratah Coal Services was given the opportunity to build a new coal loading terminal, known as Terminal 4 (or T4), as part of a wider long term agreement to service the Hunter's growing coal industry.

This was in addition to the two it already operates – the Carrington and Kooragang Coal Terminals. In 2010 the company began planning the export site's development.

The loader has been a contentious issue for Newcastle, drawing criticism from environmental groups, particularly over its dust management claims.

"Anybody who lives in Newcastle knows there is a blanketing of coal dust in many suburbs close to the coal loaders every day of the year, 365 days," Correct Planning and Consultation for Mayfield spokesperson John Hayes told The Newcastle Herald.

"There's a widespread view that spraying water and dust on the coal dust piles doesn't do much to suppress dust."

As Australian Mining reported in November, Port Waratah Coal Services has cut the capacity of its T4 coal loader on Kooragang Island by nearly two-thirds to just 25 million tonnes a year.

The cut comes after Port Waratah Coal Services said coal companies advised they no longer expected to ship as much coal.

PWCS chief executive Hennie du Plooy said he still expected T4 to be built but the original operating date of 2015 has been pushed back to June 2017.

The company is contracted to ship 124.5 million tonnes of coal this year, but will only likely do 108 million as coal companies in the region slow production.

Despite the cutbacks, Du Plooy said stage one of the project would still cost $3.5 billion and employ about 1500 people in construction jobs.

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