Rio cops noise complaints

Neighbours of Rio’s Mt Thorley-Warkworth mine have announced they will lodge a complaint with the NSW Ombudsman against the Department of Planning for failing to enforce noise and pollution consent conditions.

Bulga residents on Tuesday held a meeting where resident John Krey  said  he was told the department considered the conditions of consent for low-frequency noise  too strict, Newcastle Herald reported.

‘‘They said they wouldn’t enforce it because it wouldn’t be fair on the mine,’’ Krey who represented the Bulga-Milbrodale Progess Association said.

‘‘I said you don’t have a choice because it’s the law. You have to enforce it.’’

The move follows a number of community complaints regarding noise, dust and blasting at the mine.

Many residents have also said they cannot sleep because of low-frequency noise.

According to the mine’s complaints summary, 129 noise complaints were made in January and February this year.  

Despite the complaints the mine has not been found to have breached its consent conditions for noise.

The Department of Planning issued a statement saying the mine was required to comply with noise limits and monitor compliance with those limits. 

‘‘This monitoring must be in accordance with the industrial noise policy which includes the application of correction factors to monitoring results to deal with specific matters such as low-frequency noise,’’ the statement said.

‘‘If there is confirmed evidence that the mine is not complying with its consent conditions, we will take the appropriate action in line with our compliance and breach management guidelines.’’

Krey challenged the department’s statement. 

‘‘They do not measure and apply the correcting factors in accordance with the industrial noise policy,’’ Krey said. 

 ‘‘That’s what the meeting was about; they said it [measurement of correcting factors] is too onerous and we don’t agree with it anyway so we are not going to enforce it.’’

Recently Australian Mining reported Rio Tinto has put several of its coal assets up for sale including its stakes in Clermont, Blair Athol, and Coal & Allied.

Coal & Allied operate the Mt Thorley-Warkworth mine and their have been reports the mining giant will cut 80 per cent of its stake in Coal & Allied, to 51 per cent.

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