The Russell Vale Colliery, already closed down due to financial concerns, may soon face a permanent end to expansion plans due to a rare, giant dragonfly.
Wollongong Coal’s plans for a five-year mine life extension were stymied after the Planning and Assessment Commission responded to concerns lodged by WaterNSW that the mine could cause the loss of up to 2.6 gigalitres of water from its reservoirs each year, labelling it a “high risk situation”.
The PAC review panel cited concerns from the Office of Environment and Heritage that the expansion had the potential to drain two of three swamps at the Woronora Plateau, which are home to the giant dragonfly, listed as an endangered species in NSW.
However, Wollongong Coal failed to address the impacts of the mine expansion on the population of giant dragonflies in their risk assessment.
Wollongong Coal said it would review the commission’s report before it determines a course of action, and noted the Department of Planning had already recommended the project for approval, SMH reported.
“Despite significant challenges Wollongong Coal has persevered with the unconditional support of its major shareholders and worked tirelessly for several years to ensure the proposal met the requirements of government policies,” the company said.
Last year environmental groups petitioned to have Wollongong Coal declared as not being a “fit and proper person” to conduct business in NSW.
National Parks Association science officer Peter Turner said the PAC should be “commended for formally recognising what has been obvious for many years”.
“The NSW government should act now to protect the Special Areas from any further mining by refusing the submitted plans for more mining at Dendrobium and the soon to be submitted plans for the next stage of the expansion of the Metropolitan mine,” he said.
“The very limited and short term benefits do not justify the damage and degradation.”