THIS morning about 20 campaigners have again picketed the gates of the Russell Vale Colliery, preventing coal trucks from entering and leaving the gates of the mine. The action is the latest in a string of protests at the Wollongong Resources owned mine since it resumed operations in late 2021.
Stop Russell Vale Mine spokesperson Renata Field slammed a 2020 approval for a five year expansion plan for the old South Bulli Colliery, established in the late 1880s and one of the oldest in Australia.
“In the wake of the most catastrophic IPCC status report on climate change thus far, continuing to mine for dirty, fossil fuels is simply not an option for our planet and future generations,” she said.
The expansion plan was following a decade-long campaign by local residents, which successfully prevented a much larger longwall mining expansion from being granted the green light. However, there remains significant community concerns about the greenhouse footprint of the mine, Ms Field said, and the subsidence effects of triple-seam mining within the Special Areas of the Greater Sydney Water Catchment.
“We know from Wollongong Resources’ own documents, that this mine is emitting 2.23 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent each year that it remains in operation.
“This is the same as the annual emissions of almost 150,000 Australians, or half the population of Wollongong. All of this, to rip up and ship out for private profit for Jindal Steel and Power, and inch us closer and closer to catastrophic climate change.”
Ms Field said today’s action demonstrates a resurgence in grassroots direct action in the Illawarra.
“We know we need to keep this coal in the ground. Our re-elected Labor MP’s in Keira and Wollongong have demonstrated their ongoing commitment to keeping these mines open despite the risks, and today the community is demonstrating our ongoing commitment to shutting these mines and securing a Just Transition here in the Illawarra.”
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