Dendrobium Coal Mine extension opposes WaterNSW due to Sydney drinking water issues

The government agency responsible for protecting NSW’s drinking water has opposed a coal mine extension which it says threatens Sydney’s second-largest dam.

The NSW Planning Department is assessing a revised plan to extend the Dendrobium colliery, which has been declared State Significant Infrastructure (SSI) following its rejection by the Independent Commission planning (IPC).

WaterNSW opposed the original proposal due to its impact on water supply. The agency maintained its opposition in its latest submission on the environmental impact statement (EIS) of the revised plan.

“The submitted proposal is considered unacceptable to WaterNSW in its current form due to impacts on water quantity, water quality and ecological integrity in the metropolitan special area,” it said.

In its latest submission, WaterNSW revealed that the mine extension posed a risk to the stability of the Avon Dam, the main water source for the Illawarra region.

“WaterNSW, as owner and operator of the dam, is very concerned that the safety of the dam may be compromised by the proposed longwall mining.

“The differential movement on the dam walls could cause cracks to open in the dam walls. »

The agency said subsidence from longwall mining at the dam is expected to be between 35 and 40 millimeters.

This is eight times more than the subsidence observed by continuous monitoring from 1970 to 2021.

According to WaterNSW, despite the smaller mine plan, the project would still result in “significant” water losses.(Provided: South32)

WaterNSW claimed that the impact of longwall mining on the dam had not been assessed by a suitably qualified dam engineer, and that the impacts of subsidence in the EIS were “grossly underestimated”. “.

Debate over the extent of water loss

WaterNSW said that despite the mine’s footprint being reduced by 60%, work on the proposed underground mine would still result in the removal of 70 gigaliters of water over the next 17 years.

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