Coalpac Pty Ltd has lodged a development proposal, the Coalpac Consolidation Project, with the NSW Department of Planning. Coalpac is seeking to 'consolidate' its existing Cullen Valley Mine and Invincible Colliery coal mining operations, and continue coal mining under a single, contemporary planning approval.
The Environmental Assessment for the Project was placed on public exhibition from 10th April 2012 - 1st June 2012. Over 700 individual submissions were received objecting to the proposal. You can view the submissions by going to the NSW Department of Planning & Infrastructure's dedicated webpage here.
The Coalpac Consolidation Project proposal threatens to open-cut and highwall mine 843 hectares of the Ben Bullen State Forest, This public forest is the western gateway to the stunning Gardens of Stone area that we have been lobbying to see protected as a State Conservation Area.
Having the forests within the Gardens of Stone Stage 2 proposal area declared as State Conservation Areas would provide a 'win-win' situation for conservationists, the mining industry and the State of NSW. The natural environment on the surface could be preserved, low-impact underground mining could continue and nature-based tourism could increase.
Environment groups, Local Member for Bathurst Paul Toole, NSW ALP, NSW Greens and the majority of Cullen Bullen residents have stated their public opposition to the proposal as they would prefer mining in the proposal area to remain underground.
This scale of open-cut mining in a publicly reserved forest, which has outstanding natural values and is proposed for conservation, is overwhelmingly against the public interest. The effective privatisation and liquidation of a large part of the forest is an outrageous precedent that should not be set; it is a direct challenge to the state's efforts to reduce deforestation.
With your support, we have been lobbying the NSW Government to: