Centennial Coal’s mine modification plans would pollute Sydney’s drinking water supplies and drain unique wetlands is being assessed by Government. Centennial Coal wants to discharge 10 million of litres of contaminated water a day (10ML/day) into a stream that feeds Sydney’s main drinking water source, Warragamba Dam. Centennial's mine water should instead be treated to a high level and a 42ML/day treatment plant was built for this purpose, but these proposals would see contaminated mine water by-pass this large facility.
These proposals are part of the company’s broader plan to expand its Angus Place coal mine under additional parts of the protected Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area.
A strong case has been made greater scrutiny of these modifications proposals. The NSW Independent Planning Commission will determine the proposed modifications to two consents - Angus Place Mine consent (MP06_0021) modification 5 and Western Coal Services consent (SSD-5579) modification 8.
We are asking that Minister Scully refers the proposals for consideration under the EPBC Act. We also consider that the NSW Department of Planning and Environment should ensure that the proposals are reviewed by the NSW Independent Expert Advisory Panel on Underground Mining.
What happens to the proposals will become political, as the modification reports warn that the energy security of NSW is at risk if these mine plans are not granted.
What are the impacts of these plans?
The proposed 10ML/day of mine waste water is full of heavy metals and toxic chemicals like arsenic, selenium, ammonia, and fluoride. It would be pumped into Wangcol Creek, which feeds into the Coxs River, and eventually into Sydney’s main source of drinking water, the Warragamba Dam – which hundreds of thousands of people rely on for clean water.
Over time, this polluted water would lead to increased salinity, arsenic, zinc, and other pollutants above water quality standards in Wangcol Creek and the Coxs River.
The Coxs Rover runs through the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
There are further concerns for unique, fragile wetlands in the Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area – which is a globally recognised heritage area of ancient forest and rock formations, cultural heritage, ecological communities, and home to countless threatened plants and animals. Centennial’s plans to pump out such large quantities of mine water may result in the drying-out of and damage to unique wetlands due to a drop in the water table. These wetlands support endangered plants and animals, such as the ‘swamp everlasting’ and the migratory Latham’s Snipe.
Attached is the Wilderness Australia submission on these modifications.