Front Line Action on Coal (FLAC) is the first blockade camp of a coal mine in Australia’s history.
The location is Leard State Forest, near Maules Creek (NSW), the biggest remnant of natural bushland on the Liverpool Plains at the foothills of Mount Kaputar. The rapid expansion on the coal industry feeding the world’s largest coal export port at Newcastle is extending into NSW’s foodbowl, the Gunnedah Basin, and these three massive open pits in Leard Forest would be the first major inroads of the coal industry here.
* Currently 5% of Leard Forest is mined, but the plans would lead to the clearing of half of the forest.
* Habitat for at least 26 threatened species and two endangered ecological communities in Box-Gum Woodland forest would be wiped out.
* The mines would initially require enough water to drop the water table by up to 2 metres.
* The surrounding area is prime agricultural land, and already almost a quarter of the local community have had to leave because of the mine.
* The Maules Creek pit would be around 320m deep.
* The area is facing further issues, with coal-seam gas drilling nearby in the Pilliga scrub, and the adjacent mountain, Goonbri Mountain, threatened with Mountain-Top Removal (MTR) coal-mining.
* The mines in the area are expected to produce 30-50 million tonnes of coal every year, which represents about a fifth of Australia’s current total annual greenhouse emissions. This volume is about a third of Newcastle’s coal exports in 2012, currently the world’s largest coal export port, so the mines would lead to a significant increase in trains, dust, asthma rates, and would require the construction of a new coal terminal bordering an internationally-listed RAMSAR wetland in Newcastle.
* Because of slowing in the global coal market, the devastation caused to the forest and local communities makes little economic sense. The world has started to move away from dangerous fossil fuels like coal. According to NASA’s leading climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, if Australia does not keep most of its coal deposits safely underground, we will have little chance of avoiding runaway climate change, which means more floods, droughts, and bushfires, rising sea levels, and a collapse in available drinking water and cropping land, as well as the dislocation of hundreds of millions of people, particularly in the Global South. However, Australia’s major customer countries for coal are also the biggest drivers of growth in renewable energy. By 2020, the price of coal power stations will have exceeded that of renewable energy. Grassroots action to keep coal in the ground can drive change sooner.
Please join us in the forest!