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KORES Preliminary Assessment Report
Wallarah 2 Coal Project, Dooralong & Yarramalong Valleys

ACA Précis Summary of Kores Interim Report
Ron Sokolowski, B.Sc, Scientific Officer, Australian Coal Alliance


The Australian Coal Alliance (ACA) refers to the report submitted by KORES to the Department of Planning (DOP) seeking the concurrence of the Director General in regards to a future Environmental Assessment submission for an approval to longwall coalmine in the Yarramalong and Dooralong Valleys. Longwall coal mining has been determined as a Key Threatening Process in Schedule 3 of the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

There is no evidence in this report that community concerns have been addressed in the “preliminary assessment of a proposed new mine design” and in the supposedly “significant changes to identified geological and environmental constraints” addressed by KORES. A statement by a company spokesman that their new mine proposals “would be one that safeguarded water systems” is without any credibility and directly contradicts Department of Primary Industry (DPI) publication PRIMEFACTS MINE SUBSIDENCE February 2006, which clearly illustrates that: Quote . . . “mining under watercourses on floodplains, or in other relatively flat-lying area may result in localised diversion of water flows and possible increases in the incidences of flooding, erosion and other impacts” and . . . “longwall mining is the major cause of mine subsidence in NSW” . . Unquote.

The Dooralong and Yarramalong Valleys are relatively flat-lying floodplain areas.

Proclaimed Public Water Catchment
The proposed longwall mining project will penetrate and has the potential to damage a critical Proclaimed Public Water Catchment.

Longwall coal panels, some 4.25 kilometres long x 150-300 metres wide, and with a height of 3.5-4.5metres, would be extracted below the aquifers, creeks, natural drainage lines and valleys floodplains. These natural water courses contribute to the recharge of subsurface aquifers which account for 53% of the entire Central Coasts' water supply catchment, and supply water for some 305,000 rural and urban community residents.

The ACA has been advised by consultant hydrogeologists of a deficiency in general knowledge in NSW of the hydrological and hydrogeological characteristics of the Dooralong and Yarramalong valley aquifers. Recharge of these aquifers is from normal seasonal precipitation in the Watagan Mountains, flowing to a south easterly discharge on the coast.

The quantifiable level and time frame of recharge to these valley aquifers is unknown but considered to be over very extensive time periods. Current water balances and the maintenance of this need is currently unidentified.

The coal seam waters are heavily polluted and would fail to satisfy regulated legislative health standards for human consumption. These waters present a serious problem in their disposal, treatment and storage during the progressive removal of coal panels and would be a serious threat to the sub- surface aquifer supply to the communities and may result in a constantly changing water balance throughout both valleys.

Subsidence - Residual and Active
Residual and Active horizontal and vertical subsidence, arising from longwall mining, is uncontrollable, irreparable and indeterminable and has been recorded as a complete disaster in the Northern, Southern and Western Coalfields of NSW. This process destroys the ecological integrity and physical attributes of the environment, creates social distress, is responsible for total loss and pollution of potable water resources and is a repetitive event in perpetuity, severely damaging property and buildings. The penetration of heavily polluted coal seam waters, arising from subsidence and increased permeability in the fractured zone, can pollute streams and waterways and may severely impact upon terrestrial and aquatic wildlife. Note: the repositioning of 3-4 panels away from the Wyong River would not be free of horizontal subsidence problems.

The green riparian corridors in the Yarramalong and Dooralong valleys could be subjected to environmental degradation, destroying the habitats, ecosystems, biodiversity and ecological integrity of these valleys. Some thirty-three (33) threatened species of NSW wildlife and nineteen (19) avifauna species of national environmental significance (protected under the Australian International Migratory Bird Treaty- CAMBA and JAMBA Agreements - with China and Japan, under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, would be threatened by the proposed longwall coal mine. The migratory waders feed in the Tuggerah Lakes Barrier Estuary and are dependent upon the fresh water discharge from Wyong River and Jilliby Jilliby Creek flowing into this estuary, which is also subjected to ocean tidal inflows.

The interception of polluted coal seam waters, arising from subsidence in the valleys, would cause these estuarine areas to become heavily polluted and destroy aquatic organisms - a major food resource of the national and international migratory waders. This whole issue remains clouded in, and predicated upon, significant subsidence impact modelling to develop enhanced empirical models for the hydrogeological character of the overburden strata above the coal seams in both valleys.

The site specific factors - geophysical conditions - of these valleys are unique environments and cannot be reproduced in modelling, and any statements attributed to KORES that they can, should be treated with extreme caution. Any attempt to promote public confidence, within the communities, that subsidence is manageable and that the company will deal with this problem when it occurs, is indicative of the need to strongly object to the release of such misleading material by this company that “all can be well in the end” - it cannot. The protection of important natural and built-in features cannot be guaranteed, or mitigated for, in any interpretive modelling.

Sub vertical open tensile fractures - "cracking" - are related to high compressive stresses arising from subsidence. Very high hydraulic conductivity and subsequent losses in water flow and/or translocation of flow, is a major feature arising from a dynamic subsidence wave. A relatively large number of cracks occur in areas overlying longwall panels. (Final Report of the Cataract River Taskforce. p.22 & 35. Ed. Everett, M., Ross, T., Hunt, G. - March 1998).

Public Relations
KORES has refused to undertake direct public consultation with the Central Coast communities affected by this project. Neglect of this urgent public liability and responsibility, to the valley residents, is in contradiction of their earlier statements that they would be “open and transparent in all their public dealings”. It would appear that this company is unable to produce any satisfactory evidence in support of their statements regarding their announcements that they would safeguard the water systems. Hypothetical assurances “of control measures to deal with this problem” would appear deceitful as this is an unmanageable problem; as clearly evident in other longwall mining areas of NSW.

We have been advised by a KORES representative that they will not attend any ACA meeting which would subject them “to vigorous questioning.” At a recent KORES presentation (to a small local representative group) it was clearly apparent that their described technicalities and procedures, of their activities, is well beyond the general understanding of their audience and appeared to be misleading and evasive when explanatory requests were submitted.

Tuggerah Lakes and Barrier Estuary
The Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act 1999) regulates actions that will, or are likely to threaten wildlife of National Environmental Significance in the Tuggerah Lakes Barrier Estuary. Sedimentary deposition is recorded as “principally from the surrounding rivers and creeks and are deposited in shallow sea grass habitats close to creeks and stormwater inflow" . . . and . . . “water circulation and mixing are the physical processes that play an important role in the ecology of an estuary (Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Process Study, Roberts, D., & Butler, K., Wyong Shire Council February 2001).

Gas Flows and Methane Oxidation
The potential flow of gas discharge, arising from subsidence, should be of major concern. Since the gas reservoir size, depth and extent are already know, water quality in Wyong Creek/River and Jilliby Jilliby Creek could be seriously polluted, as would the aquifer/s within the two valleys.

The soil conditions in the two riparian corridors, and all the land in the two valleys, could be subjected to the generation of anoxic conditions from migrating methane oxidation.

How will this very serious problem be dealt with? There is no mention whatsoever in the KORES Interim Report, yet such an event would have a catastrophic impact throughout the valley communities.

Ms Janine Douglas, Senior Compliance Officer of the Department of Environment and Heritage, Canberra. has advised that KORES are required to submit their mining proposals to the Compliance Section, and to the Referral Section in accord with Federal Legislative requirements.


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