November 18, 2022
Lake Macquarie locals and environmental lawyers say Delta Coal’s proposal to prolong the operation of its Lake Macquarie coal mines, must face thorough government scrutiny.
If approved, Delta Coal will dig up to 9.5 million more tonnes of coal from beneath Lake Macquarie, which could impact water quality and aquatic ecosystems and seriously harm community health.
The billionaire-run company wants to mine an extra 9.5 million tonnes of coal from Chain Valley Colliery and Mannering Colliery by prolonging their operations by two years, until 2029.
In August the first of two fish kills occurred in Lake Macquarie, resulting in the death of thousands of fish, including stingrays. The second incident from September is currently under investigation by the NSW Environment Protection Authority. In response to the incidents, the EPA inspected Vales Point Power Station and secured equipment on site. It has also received information from Delta Electricity about the fish kills.
Environmental Justice Australia lawyer Jocelyn McGarity said:
“That’s another 9.5 million tonnes of coal to be burned at Delta’s nearby Vales Point Power Station, which we know pumps toxic pollution into the air we breathe and causes serious health conditions including asthma in children, chronic lung problems and low birthweight in newborns.
“Additionally, this proposed mine expansion is to occur underneath Lake Macquarie. Given the two recent fish kills in the Lake, it’s important that this proposal undergoes the highest level of scrutiny.
“The community has until 16 December to have a say on their health, environment and future. If decision makers receive 50 objections to the project, Delta Coal’s plans will be referred to the Independent Planning Commission, which means more rigorous assessment and community participation."
Keep Lake Macquarie Clean member David Ransom said.
“On the surface, Lake Macquarie can be as idyllic and tranquil as any lake anywhere in world. But underneath is a network of mines providing coal for a power station on its banks and with it the threat from vast hidden dumps of toxic coal-ash and polluted air.
“KLMC members, like so many in our community, value the lake for all manner of leisure activities, from sailing, sailboarding, kayaking, fishing and swimming to waterside walks and picnicking. Only a few months ago, we experienced fish kills that are still under investigation. Now we learn of Delta’s proposed mine expansion to supply the Vales Point power station, which we fear could further adversely impact the water, ecosystems and our broader community.
“So it’s vital the Lake Macquarie community has a say on Delta Coal’s plan. We want people to study this coal mining proposal and consider the fallout on them, their community, and our beautiful lake environment.”
Chain Valley Colliery and Mannering Colliery are underground coal mines that are owned and operated by Great Southern Energy Pty Ltd, trading as Delta Coal.
The mines are located underneath the southern end of Lake Macquarie with the pit top facilities located at Mannering Park and Doyalson North. The mines are linked underneath Lake Macquarie via an underground linkage.
Currently both mines operate under separate approvals, which have been modified on a number of occasions. The Chain Valley approval was modified as recently as mid-2021, which resulted in an expansion of the mine.
The proposed project seeks to consolidate the existing operations of Chain Valley Colliery and Mannering Colliery under a single development consent. It also seeks to extend the life of the mine to 2029.
The extension of the life of mine by two years would increase the total approved maximum production by 5.6 million tonnes of coal. However, the economics associated with mining the approved western areas would mean that approximately 9.5 million tonnes of additional coal would be extracted over the life of operations relative to current operations.
If approved, Delta Coal estimates that between 2023-2029 a total of 13.4 million tonnes of coal will be mined. (Chain Valley Colliery Consolidation Project Environmental Impact Statement, Delta Coal, September 2022, 1.2 Project Summary p.2).
All coal extracted at the mines is currently provided to Vales Point Power Station, which is owned by a related entity, Sunset Power International (trading as Delta Electricity). However Chain Valley Colliery has consent to transfer up to 660,000 tonnes of coal per annum to the Port of Newcastle by road for export.
On September 16, Delta Electricity owners Sunset Power, announced Delta Electricity would be sold to Czech company Sev.en Global Investments. The proposed sale would result in Sev.en taking ownership of both Chain Valley and Mannering collieries and Vales Point Power Station.
Numerous community and environment groups have raised concerns about the acquisition, including their fears that the sale may worsen pollution issues for the community.
Media contact: Kathryn Lewis, [email protected], (03) 8341 3110