Saturday was community day at camp with about a dozen locals turning up (more than we expected at short notice). The kids made a banner “No Mining Forests” which everybody got the opportunity to sign. We will be having community lunches every Saturday, but of course everybody is willing to come at any time.
So far the camp has brought together farmers, environmentalists, shooters and even a couple of people who work at the mines but nevertheless support the campaign. The scale of devastation and impacts of mining is so great out here that the only interests that aren’t affected are those of the shareholders in the mines (like Robert Kuok, Malaysia’s richest man, whose palm oil company Welmar has been accused of serious environmental and human rights abuses including the violation of indigenous land tenure, the burning of rainforests and illegal logging).
One of the big questions for the local community is about the Shooters Party, who hold the balance of power in the NSW upper house. Where is Robert Brown in all of this? Leard Forest is a popular location for recreational shooters who hunt feral pigs and goats, but the mining company has locked the public out of much of the forest. The Nationals Party has also been notable in their silence about Maules Creek, which explains the big shift towards independents in mining-affected farming communities.
Monday was interrupted by a massive bang that reverberated through the forest and send birds flying in all directions and chirping in fright for the next five minutes. The mining company uses explosives on Mondays at midday to blast gaping holes in the forest floor, exposing coal seams before the coal is mined and hauled off to port.
More people are arriving over the next week to support the camp – hopefully you will be one of them!