Category Archives: Coal Mining

EPA’s paltry fine for Wollongong Coal spill no deterrent to future offenses

MEDIA RELEASE - 15 July  2016

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said that the EPA’s announcement today that Wollongong Coal would only face a token fine of $30,000 following the significant spill of coal from the Russell Vale coal mine into Bellambi Creek last December raises concerns about whether the EPA were serious about stopping multinational coal companies polluting waterways.

Wollongong Coal which owns and operates the Russel Vale Colliery is owned by Indian multinational Jindal Power and Steel.  Russell Vale is currently in ‘care and maintenance’ and it is understood that a dust suppression spray at the mine broke last December, causing a large amount of water to saturate a coal stockpile and causing the coal to spill into Bellambi Creek.

“This fine is a drop in the ocean for a multinational coal company which has annual revenues in excess of $200 Billion and will not act as a deterrent to further environmental destruction,” Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham said.

“Just last month I visited the Bellambi Creek and saw for myself that the water is still polluted by coal, six months after the spill last December.

“If the EPA is serious about stopping multinational coal companies polluting our precious waterways then they should instead commence court action against Wollongong Coal, as they have done with Centennial Coal after a similar incident at the Clarence Colliery polluted the Wollangambe River.

“I am very concerned that the ‘care and maintenance’ regime at the mine is inadequate and that a much stronger message needs to be sent to coal companies in NSW that pollution incidents from mothballed and closed mines are unacceptable.”

“If the operators of the mine, Wollongong Coal, are unable to prevent such a spill occurring, then they should certainly not be given approval to expand the mine or build coal washeries in the future.

“With the global coal market in structural decline, the standard of care and maintenance and rehabilitation of coal mines will become increasingly important,” Mr Buckingham said.

Video of Jeremy Buckingham at Bellambi Creek inspecting coal pollution:

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

Baird & Barnaby should negotiate Shenhua exit from Liverpool Plains

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MEDIA RELEASE - 29 March 2016

Greens Mining and Agriculture Spokesperson, Jeremy Buckingham today called on Premier Mike Baird and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce to actively negotiate an exit strategy for Shenhua to hand back their coal exploration licence over the Liverpool Plains, in light of Shenhua’s Announcement of Annual Results forecast for a continuing structural decline for coal and scaled back capital investment in overseas projects.

Shenhua’s Announcement of Annual Results forecasts:

“Global demand for coal is expected to manifest a downward trend in 2016 as impacted by the slackened global economy growth, structural adjustment of energy, slow energy consumption growth and climate change. The coal supply will be excessive, and prices of thermal coal will remain low.”

“Even the world’s biggest coal miner has recognised that there is no need for new coal and it’s up to Barnaby Joyce and Mike Baird to create certainty for the farmers of the Liverpool Plains by negotiating an exit for Shenhua,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“It’s economically and strategically foolish for the Coalition and Labor to fail to acknowledge that the future is renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, not giant coal mines in our food bowl.

“Barnaby Joyce has failed to use his significant power as Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture and Water Minister.  Unless he can negotiate a swift and fair exit for Shenhua and save the Liverpool Plains, the voters of New England should throw him out.

“It’s unacceptable for this coal mine proposal to hang over the Liverpool Plains, causing uncertainty and stress, and hindering investment in agriculture.”

Farmers face 7 years jail as Baird’s anti-protest laws pass Upper House 20 - 16

Jeremy Buckingham & Don McKenzie at Leewood-2000px (3)
MEDIA RELEASE - 16 March 2016
The NSW Greens today condemned Mike Baird, the National Party and the Shooters Party for ramming through laws that could see protestors, including farmers, jailed for up to 7 years for protecting land, water, climate and communities.
The laws were passed on a vote of 20-16 at 5.20pm this evening, with the Shooters and Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats voting with the Government . The laws increase fines for protestors by 1000%, give police additional powers to break up protests, search people and seize property, and expands the definition hindering a mine with a maximum penalty of seven years jail.
Greens MP and Mining Spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said:
“This is Australia, not Vladimir Putin’s Russia. We should have the right to peaceful protest and political expression in this country.
“Land use conflict and opposition to fossil fuels is a major issue in NSW, but it needs a political solution, not a jack-boot police crackdown on democratic rights.
“The Liberals, Nationals and the Shooters Party have sided with the big mining and gas companies over farmers and the community. If farmers are thrown in jail for defending their land and water, the political parties that supported these laws will be punished by voters.
“Despite the Government’s threat, farmers and concerned citizens will continue to protest, no matter the penalty, because they are fighting for the common good,” Mr Buckingham said.
Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“The right to protest dates back 800 years to the Magna Carta but Premier Baird is so arrogant that he believes he can trample that right to deliver for the Liberal party’s paymasters in the mining industry.
“Protest is an essential part of a functioning democracy, it ended slavery, delivered Aboriginal land rights, gave women the vote, saved the Franklin and protected the Rocks and that’s why the Greens will always support it.
“These laws have no social licence in NSW and if ever the police or the Liberal National parties try to enforce them, they will hit a wall of public protest that will stop them in their tracks,” Mr Shoebridge said.

Magistrate dismisses and records no conviction for Greens MP over coal mine trespass

MEDIA RELEASE - 14 March 2015

Today at the Downing Centre Local Court Magistrate Kennedy ordered that the charge of trespass be dismissed under Section 10, without recording a conviction or issuing a fine, after Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham pleaded guilty to an offense of Enter Inclosed Lands not prescribed premises without lawful excuse.  The ‘inclosed lands’ was on the edge of the Rio Tinto Mt Thorley Warkworth coal mine in the Hunter Valley, where he recorded a short video and took photos to highlight the destruction caused by open cut coal mining.

“Justice! I’m very pleased that the Magistrate recorded no conviction and issued no fine. I maintain that visibly showing just how destructive coal mining is in the public interest and is an important part of my role as an MP,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Rio Tinto clearly wanted to intimidate me, but it will not work.  I’ve had tremendous support from the public, particularly those who follow my Facebook page where I share a lot of this information.

“The mines hide the environmental destruction behind trees lines and rock walls, so it is important that the public understands just how damaging coal mining is, and demand politicians protect our good agricultural land and water catchments.

“The Greens have a proud history of activism and standing up for what they believe, even at some personal risk.

“Under Mike Baird’s draconian new anti-protest laws, it will be very hard for MPs to attend anti-mining protests because a conviction for a crime with a possible seven year penalty would mean an end to their parliamentary career.

“Peacefully expressing a political point should not be punished by jail terms or crippling fines.  This is Australia, not Putin’s Russia.”

Government labels farmers  “eco- fascists” with draconian new laws to benefit mining companies

7 March  2016

The Greens today condemned the creation of draconian new offences to target anti-CSG and coal protesters and called on Premier Mike Baird to distance himself from the comments of his Resources Minister, Anthony Roberts who labelled farmers and others protecting land and water from coal seam gas as “eco-fascists”.

Greens MP and Mining Spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said:

“Many of those taking direct action against coal seam gas projects are farmers who feel they must act to protect the land and water from being poisoned or destroyed.  They are Australian patriots, not ‘eco-fascists’.

“I’ve sat next to a 64 year old farmer with a lock around his neck and the gates of Santos’ project out of concern for water resources and his family’s farming future.

“To label these patriots ‘eco-fascists’ is wrong and offensive, and Premier Mike Baird should distance himself from the ill-informed and shameful comments of Resources Minister Anthony Roberts.

“The Baird Government is showing its true colours by siding big mining interests against patriotic Australians seeking to protect land, water and communities.

“Does Mike Baird care more about paying back his political donors in the mining industry, and doing the bidding of his former Chief of Staff, Stephen Galilee, who now runs the Minerals Council of NSW, than he does about farmers and communities in regional NSW?”

Greens MP and Police Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“This is part of a pattern from the Coalition of evermore aggressive policing and constantly expanding police powers to crack down on protest and attack our civil liberties. NSW must not become a police state.

“These expanded police powers go well beyond coal seam gas protests and will extend across the state to clamp down on protests as diverse as WestConnex, recreational hunting and Forestry.

“I wonder if Baird even notices the irony when his right wing government proposes massive increases in police powers and then describes democratic protestors as ‘fascists’?

“The Greens will being opposing these expanded police powers under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act because, put simply, we believe in democracy and the right to protest.” Mr Shoebridge said.

Coal industry in fantasy land on new coal mines and social licence

coal mine

MEDIA RELEASE - 4 March  2016

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today questioned the coal industry’s grasp on reality after Kepco Australia vice president Bill Vatovec told the Sydney Mining Club that it was a golden age to build a mine and requested industry support to overcome community opposition.

Mr Vatovec is reported as saying:

“This is a golden gas to build a mine. The risk is in the money we have spent but the opportunity for us is that we wouldn’t get a better climate to build a mine than now.”

“I question Mr Vatovec’s grasp on reality in make this statement given the global glut of coal, plummeting prices, the number of existing coal mines closing or being put up for sale, and global policies to mitigate climate change,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Action on climate change is urgent, the age of coal is over and NSW does not need any new coal mines, particularly mines in the pristine Bylong Valley with its valuable agricultural land and water resources.

“This is a cry for help from a company that admits it does not have a social licence from the community and is pleading with the industry to leverage its links with politicians to get its mine approved.

“A social licence matters as we have seen with other resource projects such as Metgasco and AGL’s coal seam gas proposals and Shenhua’s proposed mine on the Liverpool Plains. Kepco cannot buy a social license from the government or its mining mates.”

“If Kepco really wants an Australian coal mine, it should look to purchase an existing mine from Rio Tinto or others.  It is not the golden age for new coal mines, it is the end of coal.

“The Greens policy is for a ban on new coal mines and a strategy to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy that provides for regional economic development and employment.”

Time for certainty by ending “unlikely” Shenhua Watermark coal mine

MEDIA RELEASE - 17 February 2016

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today said the admission from a federal government source to the ABC that the Shenhua Watermark coal mine was “unlikely” to go ahead and the expiration of the exploration licence on Monday, provided the opportunity for the NSW Government to provide farmers on the Liverpool Plains with certainty by giving the Chinese mining company its money back and cancelling the licence forever.

“The admission that the Shenhua Watermark coal mine is “unlikely” to go ahead highlights the need for the Premier Mike Baird to act to end the shambles and provide certainty to farmers,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The Shenhua Watermark coal mine makes no sense in the current commodities market and has virtually no support to go ahead.  Premier Mike Baird should end the uncertainty, can the mine and negotiate the return of the $300 million the company paid the NSW Government for the exploration licence.

“The NSW Government should establish and reveal whether the Chinese Government moratorium on new coal mines applies to the Shenhua Watermark coal mine?

“Why should the fertile Liverpool Plains be damaged for a giant new coal mine when a decline in demand and the massive glut of coal on the world market has caused the suspension of new coal mines in China itself?

“Farmers need certainty to make investment decisions, so it is important that the threat of this mine does not hang over their heads for years to come.”

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