Showing posts with label water wars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label water wars. Show all posts

Friday, 18 January 2019

State of Play: Australian Water Wars in 2019

Time lapse images of part of the Lake Menindee system in the Murray Darling Basin drying up through mismanagement, 2016 to 2018.

It won't be long before multiple talking heads from the Liberal and National parties will be penning opinion pieces in national newspapers and popping up as guests on radio or television accusing those who are acutely concerned, about water sustainability and the plight of the Murray-Darling Basin, of bashing the poor hardworking farmer and telling us that all irrigators are ethical individuals who are only trying to feed the nation.

Now that may be true of some, it probably isn't true of many and it is definitely not true of all irrigators.

The amount of water being taken from Murray-Darling Basin rivers is eye watering.

According to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA); Irrigated agriculture in the Basin consumes about 60% of Australia’s available water.1

Again according to the MDBA, by 2017-18 this 60% was being harvested by only 9,200 irrigated agricultural businesses

In 2017 the National Water Account stated that total surface water and groundwater entitlements in the Basin equalled 19,374 gigalitres.

The whole Murray-Darling Basin receives just 6.1 per cent of Australia’s distribution of water run-off and the MDBA admits that approximately 42% of this surface water run-off is diverted from Basin river systems primarily by irrigators.

Professor Sheldon of the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University states that more than 50% of average water inflows into the Murray and Darling rivers are extracted for irrigation.

Overall, the Murray-Darling Basin contains 77,000 km of rivers, with flows said to total some 35,000 gigalitres on average.2  A figure which now appears unreliable. 

At the beginning of the 2017–18 water year, the total volume of held water for the environment was nominally about 2,871 gigalitres (in long-term available water terms).3

Science has been telling the Federal Government and the governments of Qld, NSW, Vic and SA that Murray-Darling Basin rivers cannot sustain the rates of water extraction they have been experiencing since the second half of last century and more water needs to be returned to the rivers as environmental flows.

Government does not appear to be listening. Probably because implementing an effective response to years of mismanagement of Basin water resources would mean reducing the over allocation of water rights by commencing a policy of permanently buying back at least 7,000 gigalitres of water entitlements from irrigators and reducing the annual amount of water their remaining water entitlements represent.

Here are just three examples of excessive water consumption in the face of declining national water security.


Webster Ltd (WBA): “Webster owns a diverse portfolio of over 200,000 megalitres of water entitlements, stretching from southern Queensland, through New South Wales to northern Victoria and Tasmania. It’s also fundamental to our strategy of streaming water to areas where we can generate greatest return for each megalitre of water applied…..  we are able to extract further value by exploiting opportunities in water markets. A significant component of this entitlement holding resulted from the acquisition of Kooba along the Murrumbidgee and the subsequent acquisitions of Tandou and Bengerang with significant water entitlements in the Murray Darling Basin. Our portfolio is a complementary mix of high and general security water with supplementary and groundwater entitlements. This scale, diversity and surety of our water holdings underpins our competitive advantage…”

Webster states that its primary crop focus is on cotton, using technology and expertise to maximise yield and water efficiency, with capability to produce over 200,000 bales of cotton annually”.

Chris Corrigan is the Chairman Webster Ltd and Joseph Corrigan is the Alternate for Chris Corrigan.

Corrigan (formerly Managing Director of Patricks Corporation Ltd who colluded with the Howard Government's attempt to break a union) became chairman of the ASX listed agribusiness in March 2016, soon after it had completed a major takeover. In that play, Webster bought land and water company Tandou, assembling the nation’s top private water rights portfolio, according to Irrigation Australia.

Webster Ltd landholdings include 40,000 irrigable hectares as well as extensive grazing farmland. 

Webster holds its most of its water rights in perpetuity. As at 30 September 2018 the company listed the value of its water rights as $161.9 million.

In 2017 the company sold the water rights at its Tandou property to the Turnbull Government for $78 million which was reportedly almost twice the recommended value of the water.

Current WBA share price is in the vicinity of $1.565. In 2018 the company listed its assets value as $760.44 million. Combined salary & fees received by Webster directors exceeded $1.49 million in that year.

Its substantial shareholders in 2017-2018 were: AFF Properties No 1 Pty Ltd ATF The AFF Operations Trust (14.41%), Verolot Limited (8.92%), Mr Peter Robin Joy (8.43%), Belfort Investment Advisors Limited (5.89%) and Mr Bevan David Cushing as trustee of the KD Cushing Family Trust (5.60%).


Cubbie Station is an aggregate of three properties owned by CS Agriculture Pty Ltd, which in turn is 20% owned by RF CSAG & 80% Chinese-owned through Shandong Ruyi Technology Group Co.5

Cubbie Station is 93,000 ha in size and sources its water from the from the Condamine and Balonne river systems in the upper reaches of the Murray-Darling Basin. 

Cubbie has annual water entitlements of 460,000 megalitres. In addition it holds back in off-river storage up to 45,000 megalitres of surface water from the flood plain

Its water storage area covers 12,000ha configured in a cell arrangements with an estimated capacity of 540,000 megalitres. It is reportedly the largest irrigation property in the Southern Hemisphere.

The company’s water storage dams are said to stretch for more than 28 kilometres along the Culgoa River.

Cubbie's principal crop appears to be cotton.6

In 2017 the Australian Taxation Office listed the company’s total annual income as $161,911,344.

The value of the Cubbie Station aggregate is est. $350 million.


Norman Farming Trust trading as Norman Farming has a combined land area of over 18,000 ha across two properties in the Macintyre River delta of the Border Rivers region.

The company has an entitlement of 76,000 megalitres of annual water diversion capable of being pumped at 7,000 megalitres take-per-day, with the potential for 500 megalitres per day of additional water harvesting from rainfall/runoff without an annual limit. An est.1,218ha are used for water storage.

Norman Farming's principal crop is cotton.

Estimated value of the company is $100 million. 

The owner is currently charged with defrauding the Australian Government of $20 million in Murray-Darling Basin water funding.

Webster, Cubbie and Norman Farming between them have annual water entitlements which exceed the volume of water in Sydney Harbour.


1. MDBA, Water markets and trade:
Water in the Murray–Darling Basin can be bought and sold, either permanently or temporarily.
This water is traded on markets – within catchments, between catchments (where possible) or along river systems. This form of trading allows water users to buy and sell water in response to their individual needs. Water trading has become a vital business tool for many irrigators.
The majority of water traded in the Murray–Darling Basin is surface water, however some groundwater also changes hands.
Irrigated agriculture in the Basin consumes about 60% of Australia’s available water….
There are more than 150 classes of water entitlement in the Basin….
Water trading in the Basin is worth about $2 billion annually.
The New South Wales, Queensland, South Australian and Victorian governments are primarily responsible for managing water markets, and each state has its own process and rules for allocating water.
Irrigation infrastructure operators create and maintain trading rules within their networks.
In November 2018 in the NSW section of the Murray-Darling Basin est. 2,988 megalitres of water was transferred between trading parties.

2. For comparison Sydney Harbour is estimated to hold 500 gigalitres.1 giglitre of water equals 1,000 megalitre. 

3. Water theft appears to be an ongoing issue. In 2018 one NSW irrigator pleading guilty to the theft potentially involving billions of litres at a Mungindi property near the NSW-Queensland border, while another at Brewarrina has been charged with taking water when the flow conditions did not permit it, and breaching licence and approval conditions.

4. Initially a scientific assessment by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority identified that 6,000-7,000 GL per year would be required to return the environmental assets of the Murray-Darling Basin to sustainable ecological health. This was reduced by almost half to 3,000-4,000 GL per year in the Basin Guide. Eventually, the Australian Government considered 2,800 GL, even lower than the minimum proposed, was a reasonable target. This was further reduced to 2,750 GL before the Queensland Government agreed to sign up to the Basin Plan, a reduction from the Northern Basin. Reduction of the target by another 70 GL represents a further significant reduction in environmental flows which will exacerbate environmental decline. [Professor Richard Kingsford, Director of the Centre for Ecosystem Science, UNSW, submission]

In 2018, the Turnbull government won support from Labor to amend the amount of environmental water allocated to the system, while the Greens and some senators were opposed. The amendments cut 605 billion litres a year that were allocated from the southern basin's environmental water flows, and 70 billion litres a year from the northern basin's flows. [ABC News, 17 January 2019]

5. The volume of water entitlements owned by businesses with some level of foreign ownership was 1.9 million megalitres at 30 June 2016 or 12.5% of the total volume of water entitlements for agricultural purposes in Australia. Of the water entitlements with some level of foreign ownership, the majority (1.6 million megalitres or 83%) was held by businesses that were more than 50% foreign owned. [Australian Bureau of Statistics, 7127.0 - Agricultural Land and Water Ownership, 2015-16] 
In 2016 in New South Wales in 847,250 megalitres of water entitlements were 100% foreign owned and in Queensland 744,957 megalitres were totally foreign owned.

6. According to the Dept of Agriculture and Water Resources ABARES, the Murray–Darling Basin accounts for around 91 per cent of Australia’s total cotton farms and cotton area. It is estimated that the total area in the Basin under cotton production is 490,000 hectares.If all of this land was planted for cotton in a given year then it is likely that the crops would require somewhere between 2.19 million to 3.82 million megalitres of water.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Murray-Darling Basin Plan: a $13 billion fraud on the environment

Some home truth about the current Murray-Darling Basin Plan to remember as we enter into the morass of competeing claims in NSW State and Australian Federal election campaigns in the first half of this year....


MR R. BEASLEY SC, Senior Counsel Assisting:

….Commissioner, the Water Act and the Basin Plan have been hailed as ground-breaking reform. They are. What this Commission has learnt, however, from the evidence it has gathered, and from the witnesses that have informed us, is that it’s one thing to enact transformative legislation like the Water Act and the Basin Plan, it’s quite another thing to faithfully implement it. Sadly, the implementation of the Basin Plan at crucial times has been characterised by a lack of attention to the requirements of the Water Act and a near total lack of transparency in an important sense.

Those matters have had, and continue to have, a negative impact on the environment and probably the economies of all the Basin Plan states but the state that will suffer the most is the state at the end of the system, South Australia. The Water Act was a giant national compromise. At its heart was a recognition that all of the Basin states – Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia – were taking too much water from the system and had been for a long time. That, as a matter of statutory fact in the Water Act, and as a matter of reality, has led to serious degradation of the environment of the Basin. The Millennium Drought of 2000s underscored the fact that, if nothing was done, over-allocation of the water entitlements in the Basin would inevitably and quickly lead to irreversible damage to the Basin environment.

The Water Act was a response to that. It was the statutory means by which the process of restoration and protection of environmental assets would begin. I say the Water Act was a compromise because the Act contemplates that water will be taken from our rivers and used consumptively for irrigation, the growing of crops and permanent plants. Of course, also for human water needs. But it sets a limit. That limit is that no more water can be taken beyond the point where key areas of the environment and its ecosystems might be damaged. In an environment that’s already degraded, that means the Water Act requires the environment to have both enough water to restore degraded wetlands and the like and also, of course, to maintain them.

That’s not just the right thing to do. It’s what Australia’s international obligations require. That task, setting a limit on the extraction of water, is to be based on the best available science. Not guided by the best science, not informed by the best science but based on the best available science. It also has to be achieved by taking into account the well-known principles of ecologically sustainable development. What the Commission has learnt from the evidence presented to it is that the implementation of the Basin Plan, at crucial stages, has not been based on the best available science. Further, ecologically sustainable development has either been ignored or, in some cases, in relation to supply measures, actually inverted.

 I want to read to you a peer review of the Guide to the Basin Plan from some international scientists in 2010 because it demonstrates that they were well aware, even back then, of what was actually going on in the early stages of drafting the Basin Plan. This is a peer review report by Professor Gene Likens of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Mr Per Bertilsson of the Stockholm International Water Institute, Professor Asit Biswas from the Third World Centre for Water Management and Professor John Briscoe, Gordon McKay Professor from Harvard University. What they said was this, in reviewing the Basin Plan, at page 34 of what became exhibit RCE38:

It is a fundamental tenet of good governance that scientists produce facts and the government decides on values and makes choices. We are concerned that scientists in the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, who are working to develop the facts, may feel they are expected to trim those so that the sustainable diversion limit will be one that is politically acceptable. We strongly believe that this is not only inconsistent with the basic tenets of good governance but that it is not consistent with the letter of the Water Act. We equally strongly believe that government needs to make the necessary trade-offs and value judgments and need to be explicit about these, assume responsibility and make the rationale behind these judgments transparent to the public.

If all the MDBA had been done in the past eight years since that review was written is “trim the facts”, that would be bad enough. But it’s worse than that. The implementation of the Basin Plan has been marred by maladministration. By that I mean mismanagement by those in charge of the task in the Basin Authority, its executives and its board, and the consequent mismanagement of huge amounts of public funds. The responsibility for that maladministration and mismanagement falls on both past and current executives of the MDBA and its board. Again, while the whole of the Basin environment has and will continue to suffer as a result of this, the state whose environment will suffer the most is South Australia.

The principal task of those implementing the Plan is to set the Basin-wide sustainable diversion limit. How much water can be taken from the rivers before the environment suffers? You’ve heard evidence that has been unchallenged that this task was infected by deception, secrecy and is the political fix. The modelling it has been said to have been based on is still not available seven years later. The recent adjustment of the sustainable diversion limit by raising it by 605 gigalitres, on the evidence you’ve heard, is best described as a fraud on the environment. That’s a phrase I used in opening. It was justified then. It’s re-enforced by the evidence you’ve heard subsequently. The so-called 450 gigalitres of upwater, the water that the then South Australian Government fought for, for this State’s environment, is highly unlikely to ever eventuate. The constraints to the system are just one major problem in the delivery of that water.

Like all aspects of the implementation of the Basin Plan, efficiency measures or infrastructure projects that form the basis of how the 450 gigalitres of water is to be attained, and which are funded by public money, lack any reasonable form of transparency and, as the Productivity Commission recently, and witnesses to this Commission, have noted, are hugely more expensive and less reliable than purchasing water entitlements. I will discuss this in detail but I will give you one quote from an expert who can talk with real authority about the extra 450 gigalitres proposed for South Australia under the Basin Plan. That’s the former Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, David Papps. In his evidence to you said:

 I would bet my house that South Australia is not getting that water.

Mr Papps’ prediction seems safe when one considers the proposed amendments to the Basin Plan by the governments of NSW and Victoria concerning the 450 gigalitres that I will come to shortly. Everything that I have just said to you is based on the views of eminent scientists and other people who have given evidence and lodged submissions. However, neither the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, or any Commonwealth government agency has provided any answer to anything I have just said or to the evidence before the Commission that I will refer to shortly. They have no answer. The submissions provided to you very recently by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, and the DAWR, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, demonstrate, as did their unwillingness to give evidence, culminating in proceedings to the High Court, that they do not have any answer.

The MDBA, you will recall, were even too busy to meet you. The States also have no answer, as demonstrated in their somewhat thin submissions to you, with the exception of the South Australian Government. When I say the MDBA has no answer to the expert evidence given in this Commission, I should emphasise also that it clearly has no answer to the maladministration and unlawfulness of its implementation of the Basin Plan. It is nevertheless a great pity that relevant persons from the Basin Authority, and other Commonwealth agencies, were not required to give answers to you under oath concerning the scientific evidence the Commission gathered.

The opportunity may have been there had the High Court decided those proceedings in your favour. I’m not going to speculate on what the High Court would have done but, regrettably, the South Australian Government chose not to extend your Commission in order to provide you with the opportunity that may have been available to you to question those relevant people. You made it clear to the South Australian Government that was your strong preference. You advised them that the Commission had potential witnesses that wanted to give important evidence, evidence relevant to the South Australian environment, but only if they were compelled by summons. In other words, they were too scared to talk about the implementation of the Basin Plan without the force of a summons. Why the Commission was not extended to explore these crucial matters is something upon which you can draw inferences as you see fit. I will only say that it’s a great opportunity lost……

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Water theft within the Murray Darling Basin continues

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Castillo Copper Limited operations suspended on exploration leases in the Clarence Valley NSW

Clarence Environment Centre brings welcome news as 2018 ends.

Castillo Copper Limited operations at Cangai, in the Mann River Catchment, Clarence Valley NSW have been suspended on the grouns that there is: a lack of sediment and erosion controls; poor management of drill cuttings/waste materials; clearing and excavation works undertaken outside of approved limits; the drilling of five bore holes without approval; and a failure to progressively rehabilitate in approved time frames.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Water Wars 2018: water mining of the Alstonville aquifer suspended pending government review

BLOCKADE: Around 100 people were there for the 'Stop water mining rally in Uki' on Saturday 27 October, where residents stopped water trucks in the main street. Dave Norris/The Northern Star

Echo NetDaily, 20 November 2018:

Regional water minister Niall Blair has requested an independent review into the impacts of the bottled water industry on groundwater sources in the Northern Rivers.

And local councils have been advised to suspend approving any new applications for water mining until the report is complete in mid 2019.

The NSW chief scientist & engineer will provide advice on the sustainable groundwater extraction limits in the region, as well as advice on whether the current or proposed groundwater monitoring bores are sufficient.

Minister Blair said the NSW Government ‘recognises the pivotal role that water plays in regional prosperity and long-term growth of communities’.

‘Local community members and community leaders have made representations to me on behalf of their constituents and we are taking action,’ he said.

‘I have asked the chief scientist & engineer to investigate the sustainability of groundwater extraction in the Northern Rivers for bottling purposes.

‘Water is a finite resource and we are completing this review to make sure that water remains available into the future in the Northern Rivers catchment for all purposes including stock and domestic users and for groundwater dependent ecosystems,’ Mr Blair said.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Community unhappy about Tweed Shire Council water mining consent at Rowland Creek

Image: Onthehouse

Echo NetDaily
, 6 October 2018:

Around 100 protestors made their point before council ignored them by voting 4–3, to reject Mayor Katie Milne’s rescission motion in regards to the September vote, where the majority of Tweed Shire councillors gave the thumbs up to a water mining operation at Rowlands Creek.

Councillor Katie Milne moved that a DA for a bulk loading/delivery of extracted water and roadworks at Rowlands Creek Road be deferred for several reasons including that NSW Water’s response to the pumping study was a brief email, not a formal review.

She asked that council seek additional consideration and hydrological testing from the applicant as outlined in a report by Professor Peter Cook (Potential Impact of Groundwater Pumping on Rowlands Creek) and that a suitably qualified university review the applicant’s report and subsequent response as well as NSW Water’s response and Professor Cook’s reports.

The motion also argued that the costings of road damage (referred to in the report but not provided) be publicly released; that the Rowlands Creek / Kyogle Roads intersection problem (which has been acknowledged and considered by the applicant’s traffic engineers but remains unresolved) should be referred to an independent expert for an opinion on the best practice approach; that council refer the problem of the Rowlands Creek Road / Mitchell Street intersection to the same independent expert for opinion on a best practice solution; and, that Council staff report whether they have investigated previously claimed discrepancies in the road width on the straight close to Uki – if not, to do so and if the Bitzios report is incorrect propose appropriate corrective measures.

The motion also asked that council seek independent legal advice on whether its public interest assessment meets Council and other legal obligations.

The 4–3 vote went Crs Cherry, Cooper and Milne for the rescission, and Cs Byrne, Polglase, Allsop and Owen against.

Cr Milne told Echonetdaily that this is not the end of the issue as far as she and council are concerned. ‘The developer has to gain final sign-off from councillors that the roadworks required are properly completed before he can commence operations,’ said Ms Milne.

‘There is another application in the system for Dungay, the court judgement for the Urliup expansion, and numerous applications for amendments required to rectify non-compliances of other existing operators as well as whatever else comes in.’
The mayor added that some of her greatest concerns include the safety of local residents, the impact on Rowlands Creek, the viability of the State Significant Farmlands adjacent, and the viability of locals’ stock and domestic water bores as well as the enormous costs expected for residents for these ongoing road repairs.
The Tweed Water Alliance submitted a hydrology report which suggested the water mining should not go ahead yet council still voted to go ahead. Ms Milne says the report was unequivocal and absolutely convincing. ‘It was done by one of the world’s leading groundwater scientists. There are always councillors who put development before the community. Unfortunately the Labor councillor joined them this time.
‘This is an issue that affects the whole community across the Shire. Apart from the water security issues, I’m sure our residents and pensioners would not be keen on subsidising ongoing road damage from these heavy trucks.’

Tweed Water Alliance’s Facebook page suggests that direct community action is now being contemplated.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Whitehaven Coal’s Vickery mine extension community consultation has farmers up in arms

Whitehaven Coal Vickery Forest coal mining operation, 2018

Maules Creek section of coal mining operation, 2018

Whitehaven Coal Limited is seeking planning permission to extend its existing mining infrastructure footprint approx. 22kms north of Gunnedah in north-west NSW, by adding a coal processing hub with an on site coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP), train load-out facility and rail spur line to service its open cut mines at Tarrawonga, Rocglen and Werris Creek.

Quite naturally local rural communities are concerned…….

The Northern Daily Leader, 5 October 2018:

The Greens have condemned NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts and called his decision to ignore the plea of drought-stricken farmers “the height of arrogance”.

The spraying follows comments Mr Roberts made to The Leader yesterday, where he referred to the 4000-page Vickery coal mine extension report as a “relatively short document”, as he knocked back the request of farmers for more time to read the submission.

Farmers say they are struggling to find time to read and understand the massive document, let alone write a response to it, when they are hand feeding cattle.
Greens resource spokesman Jeremy Buckingham wrote to Mr Roberts in September, seeking to extend the public consultation time from 42 days to 90 days, however is yet to receive a response.

“Minister Anthony Roberts has displayed the height of arrogance in ignoring local farmers and communities and failing to give them a fair chance of responding to a 4000-page document on Vickery coal mine,” Mr Buckingham said.

“Minister Roberts has failed to acknowledge that many local folks are flat out keeping their livestock and farms alive in drought conditions.

“Local farmers and community members have asked for an reasonable extension of time to read thousands of pages of documents and make a considered response, but the Minister won’t listen.

“What does the NSW Government have to hide on this Vickery coal mine proposal?”...

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Adani Group has Morrison, Price, Littleproud & Taylor wrapped around its little finger

Since September 2013 the Australian Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government has been a rolling national disaster.

This latest episode appears to have its roots in the hard right's commitment to dismantle environmental protections.

Especially replacing Labor's "water trigger" amendment to the ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION AND BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION ACT 1999 with a band-aid which fooled no-one.

ABC News, 25 September 2018:

A farmer has been denied access to a river system Adani plans on drawing 12.5 billion litres of water from in what activists are calling a "double standard", documents obtained under freedom of information laws show.

The mining giant plans to take 12.5 billion litres of water from the Suttor River every year, nearly as much as all local farmers combined.

Despite this amount, the documents show at least one irrigator had their application for a water licence rejected in 2011, leading activists to claim farmers were assessed more harshly than Adani.

The documents also show the modelling used by the company to predict the impacts of the water usage ignored the past 14 years of rainfall data and, despite planning to take water until 2077, it did not take into account the impacts of climate change.

"Altogether, this underscores how poor the decision was last week to allow 12.5 billion litres to be taken without assessment," Carmel Flint from anti-mining group Lock The Gate Alliance said. The group obtained the documents under Queensland's Right To Information laws.....

Monday, 24 September 2018

When it comes to protecting Clarence Valley water resources "Castillo's credibility is wearing very thin indeed"

This is a basic map clearly showing a historic cluster of small abandoned mine sites in the vicinity of the Mann River, one of the principal tributaries of the Clarence River which is the largest coastal river in New South Wales. 

The old Cangai Mine site is now part of a Castillo Copper Limited exploration lease and its proximity to the Mann River is apparent.

As the crow flies the distance between this site and the Mann River is estimated to be less than 4 kms and Cangi Mine is also bounded on three sides by three creeks which feed into the Mann.

Following North Coast Voices posting Castillo Copper Limited's Jackadgery Project: has spinning the truth already begun? on 17 September 2018 one Clarence Valley resident sent me an email which pointed out a curious ommission in Castillo Copper Limited exploration licence application this mining company:

"However, under Section 19.4 beneath the heading: “Surface water sources”, is the following requirement:

“Provide details of the existing surface water sources in the area that are likely to be affected by the activity. Provide details of the nearest watercourse/s and the distance between the proposed disturbance area/s and the nearest watercourse/s”.

Castillo's Response

“The proposed activity area bounded by Bobward creek from the west and Smelter creek from the east. The distance from disturbance area to Bobward creek is 550 – 620m; the distance to Smelter creek is about 500m. The water for drilling if required will most likely will be taken from Bobward creek. Permission has been sought and granted by the landowner”.

No mention of the Mann or Clarence in the entire document.

Talk about "dodgy". Castillo's credibility is wearing very thin indeed,"


North Coast Voices, 17 September 2018, Castillo Copper Limited's Jackadgery Project: has spinning the truth already begun?

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Blatant water theft by miners being allowed under Berejiklian Government rules?

IMAGE: Ros Druce. Maules Creek Mine, January 2016 in New Matilda

ABC News, 10 September 2018:

A New South Wales coal mine is being accused of inappropriately taking more surface water than it is entitled to.

A review of Whitehaven Coal's Maules Creek Mine near Narrabri by the campaign group Lock the Gate showed it captured 1,800 million litres (ML) of surface water in 2016, despite being licenced to take 30 million litres.

Surface water is water that is collected from rainfall and run off.

An examination of surface water licences in New South Wales has been unable to find any other surface water licences held by the mine to justify the additional water.

"It does appear that the take is much higher than the licence they have explained to the community," Maules Creek farmer Lochie Leitch said.

Whitehaven Coal declined to be interviewed.

The company issued a statement saying it was in compliance with its water licences, and the use of rainfall and runoff is permissible under legislation.

Farmers whose properties neighbour the mine have joined forces with the campaign group, Lock the Gate Alliance, to lodge a complaint with the state's new water watchdog, the Natural Resources Access Regulator.

The NRAR was set up in April 2018 following a review of water management and compliance which was prompted by a story by the ABC's Four Corners.

The farmers are worried that the alleged collection of this extra surface water is affecting the environment.

"[It's] simply capturing too much water that would otherwise be recharging groundwater and flowing into surface water systems," Maules Creek farmer Sally Hunter said.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

The people of the Liverpool Plains versus Santos and its irresponsible domestic and international shareholders

Oil and gas mining corporation Santos Limited is currently seeking approval to drill up to 850 natural gas wells on est. 425 sites over 95,000 hectares in the Pilliga Forest region of north-west New South Wales. 

Pilliga Forest is consdered a rare example of intact temperate forest and covers an est. 300,000 hectares sitting atop a recharge area of the Great Artesian Basin.

Santos presents itself as an Australian company, yet two affilated Chinese companys hold over 624 million voting shares in the companyand its top institutional shareholders contain the usual mix of international banks, finance and investment companies2.

In its 2017 annual report Santos admits; A range of environmental risks exist within oil and gas exploration and production activities3

This is the response of the people living on the Liverpool Plains. 

The backyard of New South Wales is facing its biggest threat yet – invasive gasfields. Betrayal by governments has meant protectors are fighting to save the things they love. The Pilliga, Great Artesian Basin, Liverpool Plains – all are at risk. This is a David and Goliath battle to save our land, air and water from destruction. It’s also a fight for the soul and future of Australia. In this film we meet the experts and people living in the sacrifice zone and uncover the truth behind the real gas crisis confronting ordinary Australians.

1. As of 27 June 2017 Hony Partners Group, L.P and ENN Ecological Holdings Co Ltd acting in concert
2. At Page 130
3. 15 February 2017 Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection fined Santos  $12,190 for non-compliance with a Soils Management Plan.