Day 3 – a visit from the mine

The moon hasn’t risen yet over the mine-pit – for a while we thought it was mine-lights but when it rises, the waning moon provides good light out here at Leard State Forest. The mines themselves let out an eery glow, obscuring some of the stars, although it is still more starry here than in any city.

About midday today we got a visit from the mine manager and another manager of Idemitsu’s Boggabri mine, the closest mine to our camp, brandishing a letter warning us that although the mine respected our right to protest, they believed that if we crossed into the fenced public land that surrounds the mine, we would be committing trespass. The mine itself is not allowed to buy the land where their mine sits, because it is still part of the State Forest – nevertheless, they have erected a fence. They were very eager to talk about how impressive their post-mine regeneration is – they told us they had built a plantation of three tree species over a mix of topsoil and overburden, and that after four years of regeneration in an area they have already mined, they even found an echidna recently – proof positive that the critters are returning to the forest! It was a little difficult not to scoff, but we kept the conversation friendly.

Idemitsu claims no responsibility for the management of the Tarrawonga mine, of which they own 30% – in the mine manager’s words, “they just send us a cheque every year”. They mustn’t know much about the mine’s future plans either. Last year, the Nature Conservation Council exposed Idemitsu for claiming that the land where the Tarrawonga mine sits would act as a rehabilitation zone for the Boggabri mine, despite the fact that Tarrawonga wants to keep mining for another 23 years. If Idemitsu genuinely believe that they are not responsible for the management of Tarrawonga mine, they are dead wrong – under tort law, all owners of a development, including major and minor shareholders, are liable for impacts and breaches.

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald’s expose on ICAC’s investigation on politicians’ back-handed deals with the coal industry should serve as a warning for the owner of the proposed new mine in Leard Forest, Nathan Tinkler, who has made former Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile the head of Whitehaven Coal, and used BKK resources, who number former Treasurer Peter Costello among their six-member directorship, to offer investment advice on the Maules Creek coal project. But Tinkler is probably more pre-occupied with his embarrassing loss in the Supreme Court yesterday, which forced him to complete a $20 million purchase of land he no longer needs for his failed coal terminal project. Little wonder he begged for more time to pay for purchasing a Queensland coal company five days ago. Tinkler used to be into horse-gambling – I’d be betting on a Front Line Action on Coal victory!

The mine manager left us to get lunch ready with a few parting words. He told us that they’d worked harder than any of the other mines at working with the local community and looking after the forest, “but we’re the ones getting the protestors!”. Sorry, Idemitsu, but that’s just what happens when you’re the first big new coal mine in the Gunnedah basin, the biggest mine project with a lease covering most of the forest.

The freelance journalist who writes for the Namoi Valley Independent returned today – he told us to expect a page 1 and 2 article on the camp. Not all of their articles are posted online though, so you’re much better off coming out to camp!

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4 comments

  1. Peppered like boils throughout this great southern land, stamping their greedy mark across song lines, cultural heritage sites, bio-diverse regions and biomes are too many – mines, logging coupes and gas wells…

    From James Price Point in the west, land clearing in the Daintree, clear fell logging in the central highlands of Victoria along with coal seam gas franking exploration and all manner of open cut and underground mines, spanning the entire country and of course, to Miranda Gibson, encamped in The Observer Tree, observing the destruction of over 2 million acres supposed to be set aside with a moratorium on the area in Tasmania’s last remaining forests, stalled for years by bumbling politicians and bullish corporations all hell bent on selling the last vestiges of what remains of Australia’s rare, unique and precious heritage ecology…

    And we have the Leard State Forest; “Pilliga scrub” as fondly referred to in-

    “A Million Wild Acres: 200 years of man and an Australian forest’ is a non-fiction book written by Eric Charles Rolls (1923–2007). It was first published in Melbourne by Nelson in 1981. A Million Wild Acres is not just a regional history of what is now known as the Pilliga Scrub (see Pilliga forest) but also a history of European settlement in Australia.

    The book won The Age Book of the Year (1981), C.J. Dennis Prize and Talking Book of the Year.

    ‘This will be seen as one of the great books about Australia. Eric Rolls gives the history of the forest the laconic power of an extended campfire yarn, spiced with the personal vision that comes from a lifetime of acute observation’ Historian, Professor Weston Bate”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Million_Wild_Acres

    Yet, 31 years after first published, none in the powerful corridors of State or Federal governance seem affected by the destruction of this significant biome of dry forest and uniquely inter-woven faunal supporting habitat in the Gunnedah basin by the ignorant miners, their minions and greedy investors…

    Here today we read of a small group committed to protesting and exposing this disgrace, of more blights on our landscape, in the Pilliga scrub, being lied to and bullied, by the pressure of mining management presence and letter of intimidation all for simply being in State Forest…

    And again, we wonder, of the reason so much bullying exists in our schools, oh we wonder…

  2. Reblogged this on takesonetwoknowone and commented:
    I’ve given my thoughts in comment on the article…

  3. Kenieth Baker · · Reply

    The number of stars you could see in Boggabri has diminished markedly since the Coal Mine started. The enormous light signature from the mines is responsible. A simple thing the pleasure of looking up and realising you are such an insignificant part of the universe, but important never the less. Miners who have come to be part of our community Monday to Friday will never know what they missed. We who were here do.

  4. Kenieth Baker · · Reply

    Whitehaven Coal’s share price was $6.03 on April 12th. Today it is $2.84. Their purchase of the proposed coal mine at Maule’s Creek has caused quite a ripple in the investment community’s support for their planning and execution. The fact is, nobody can get enough coal out of the Boggabri/Gunnedah coal mines and down the rail to Newcastle without a lot more investment in Rail infrastructure.

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