Monday, 9 September 2013
Newcastle Herald 6 September 2013:
THE state government has been accused of allowing Glencore Xstrata to mine under Sugarloaf State Conservation Area without meeting all its licence conditions.
West Wallsend Colliery, responsible for destroying part of the reserve, appears to have been operating for more than 18 months in breach of a consent condition designed to monitor subsidence risk and protect the environment.
In what shapes as another embarrassing chapter in the environmental scandal for the government, documents show the mine was supposed to establish an independent review committee to monitor its operations.
Information obtained by the Newcastle Herald reveals the committee - which was never formed - was to have veto power over the mine in the event of unacceptable environmental impacts from subsidence.
Extensive subsidence damage, uncovered last week, occurred in October last year adjacent to longwall 41 during secondary extraction, but the public was never informed.
In June, more than 180 tonnes of grout was pumped into a stream during a botched remediation project run by the mine.
The colliery's project approval, authorised by Planning Minister Brad Hazzard in January 2012, states the committee should include "involvement and review by appropriate subsidence experts".
Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham described the lack of an independent committee as "another disgraceful element of this sad episode".
Mr Buckingham called on the government to explain exactly why Glencore Xstrata was allowed to continue mining without complying with its approval consent.
"It's clear the government has a crisis on its hands and the planning approval process is broken," he said.
"That independent body was a requirement of the mine's consent. The company plays lip service to this condition and there is no serious compliance. The system is broken, and it's not just this mine, it's mines across the state."......