Mines face fight to survive

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Coal mines in Queensland and New South Wales are facing a fight to exist, with Greens MPs and local environmentalists campaigning to close them down.

In Queensland locals have launched a challenge in the Supreme Court to fight the reopening of the Ebenezer mine by Zedemar Holdings.

Zedemar is currently in the process of selling Ebenezer and the nearby 9202ha Bremer View coal project to OGL Resources, which plans to reopen the dormant project.

Local man Graham Turner is leading the battle, and told The Queensland Times mining companies were “combining against a community made up of mostly battlers, retirees, and small farmers”.

Turner said the community would be “adversely affected” by Ebenezer’s reopening.

He said the legal challenge would argue QLD Mines Minister Stirling Hinchliffe had no right to approve the mine.

“We believe it’s illegal to renew a mining lease when the mine hasn’t been operating for almost a decade and there was no community consultation before the Minister made his decision,” he said.

In NSW Greens MPs Jeremy Buckingham and Lee Rhiannon are calling on the NSW Government to stop the approval of new mines.

The Greens said they wanted a regional water study based on the cumulative affects of mining to be completed before the industry expanded further.

Buckingham and Rhiannon said while they acknowledged mining had given an economic boost to the region development was out of balance and there was an “over reliance” on mining.

Their comments were made following a visit to the Hunter Valley on a ‘coal fact finding tour’ to see the affects of mining on local towns and landowners.

The NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said industry welcomed some of the positive comments from the Greens about the mining industry.

He said the recognition of mining’s importance to the economy was a big shift from comments made by Rhiannon six months ago when she called for the end of the industry within a decade.

“Now that the Greens have conceded the economic contribution of the industry, hopefully we can have a more balanced discussion about the future,” he said.

Galilee said he had just completed his own tour of the mines in the Hunter region and was “very impressed” by the industry’s commitment to the community.

“Jobs are being created, investment is being made, local suppliers are being supported and miner’s wages are being spent with the region’s cafes, pubs, hairdressers, hotels and other services.”

“There is low unemployment and good career opportunities across a range of industries and that is something that we should all be proud to celebrate.”

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