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Activists plan another protest against expansion plans for Russell Vale Colliery

ENVIRONMENTAL activists from the Illawarra Climate Justice Alliance (ICJA) plan to protest the expansion of Wollongong Coal’s Russell Vale colliery this Saturday morning, October 16.

Along with a series of other coal projects, federal environment minister Sussan Ley approved the expansion of mining operations at the site in September, despite a Federal Court ruling that the state owes future generations “duty of care” over climate change.

ICJA opposes the expansion of the Russell Vale mine’s operations, citing the need to transition rapidly away from a fossil-fuel based economy by 2030 in order to avoid the effects of severe climate change.

Wollongong Coal plan to extract 3.7 million tonnes of coal from under the Greater Sydney water catchment over the next five years.

ICJA warns the longwall mining underneath the Greater Sydney water catchment poses a serious risk to drinking water for 5 million people. The group says the transportation of coal through residential areas also risks coal dust pollution, raising fears that air quality will decrease for locals.

Wollongong Coal have said in a statement that environmental and social studies for a revised mine plan commenced in 2017, with a detailed round of engagement undertaken with key stakeholders and local residents.

“The revised mine plan has been developed in response to government and community concerns regarding the potential environmental and social impacts of the project,” a spokesperson said in the statement.

“In particular, concerns regarding potential subsidence related impacts of mining on groundwater, surface water and biodiversity, as well as noise impacts on the local community.”

Wollongong Coal said key project changes include use of non-caving first workings mining methods with negligible subsidence and environmental impacts – longwall mining is no longer proposed; a reduced production rate and substantial redesign of the Russell Vale Pit Top to reduce noise impacts on the local community, as well as improve surface water management.

At 11am tomorrow (Saturday), dozens of protesters plan to form a convoy of cars and bicycles at the Vikings Rugby Club car park (Swan Street). The convoy will depart at around 11.30am, aiming to disrupt city streets, before moving along the Princes Highway towards the mine site at Russell Vale.

The convoy’s route, from near Port Kembla coal terminal northward to the mine site, symbolically follows the path that coal will be transported before hitting global markets, once the mine becomes operational.

More details about the event is available at the ICJA Facebook Page HERE.


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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.

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