NSW needs to re-assess mining subsidence in Newcastle

There have been calls for the NSW government to consider mine subsidence in their recent plans for more high-rise development in Newcastle.

Newcastle Labour councillor Tim Crakanthorp has spoken for the Newcastle council and reaffirmed the need to work with the Premier, Barry O'Farrell to identify a better system to address mine subsidence while also facilitating development in the CBD.

According to the Mine Subsidence Technology Society, mine subsidence is the movement of the ground surface as a result of the collapse or failure of underground mine workings.

Traditionally a mining town, Newcastle has historically faced many mining subsidence issues and future building development has been called to consider the possibility of failed mines.

The Hunter branch of the Property Council identified subsidence as the key obstacle for investment in the inner-city, with the costly grouting process required to stabilise old mine workings a significant barrier for developers.

Crakanthorp says pumping concrete slurry into old mine workings is crucial.

"The whole of Newcastle's CBD is undermined," he said.

"We've got a compromise there where we get that working again with the state government to look at how we are going to do grouting under the CBD.”

This comes in light of a recent proposal put forward by The Hunter Development Corporation that appealed to the State government’s Resources for Regions program which funds projects in mining-affected communities.

The proposal entailed grouting large sections of the Corporation’s land at a time to prepare it for the market, but was rejected.

It has since caused The Property Council of Australia’s (PCA) Hunter chapter to call for the development of a strategy that ‘‘attacks wide areas of the city’’, rather than on a site by site basis.

The PCA has proposed a developer contribution scheme to fund the strategy, where the government would contribute up front and the cost of the work would be recouped from developers.

The appeals to the State Government to reconsider it’s position on Newcastle’s mining subsidence from both private and public councils comes as large-scale redevelopment of the Newcastle CBD commences.

Urban Development Institute of Australia chief executive Stephen Albin says ‘‘Something needs to be done”.

“While we have a lot of benefits out of mining … we need to find a way that the government can assist,’’ he said.

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