Traditional owners warned of coal mining 'risks'

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A university researcher has advised traditional owners in the Kimberley not to approve coal mines on their land, until more is known about the environmental impact of the project.

A local Aboriginal corporation commissioned the independent study to explore the risks of mining coal in the Canning Basin.

Rey Resources has applied for a licence to build its Duchess Paradise coal mine, almost 200 kilometres south-east of Derby, near the Fitzroy River.

Peter Cooke from the University of WA says his research reveals a gaping hole in information about how the mine would affect Kimberley land and river systems.

"My study was not intended to say yes go ahead or don't go ahead," he said.

"It was intended to bring forward the risks of the coal mining and really the conclusion and the recommendation that my study came to was that at this stage we don't know enough in order to give an informed decision." Read the Report

Broome woman Anne Poelina has lodged an objection to Rey Resources being granted a mining licence for the coal project.  

The objection will be heard in the Wardens Court today.

Woodside Gains Approval

Federal Resources Minister Gary Gray has given approval for a consortium led by Woodside Petroleum to submit a new plan to develop the gas fields. Earlier this year, Woodside abandoned plans to build a gas hub at James Price Point, north of Broome. Last month Mr Gray was again talking up the use of floating LNG technology to develop the Browse Basin.

WA Premier Colin Barnett is strongly opposed to the idea, with concerns offshore processing would provide less economic benefit to the state. Mr Gray said he had decided to vary conditions on five Browse retention licenses to ensure timely development of the field. The leases had previously stated the gas was to be processed at James Price Point but that condition has been removed.

Read more -

Traditional Owners Challenge the Natural Gas Agreement Bill

The Natural Gas Agreement Bill formalises an agreement between the Barnett Government and Buru Energy to build a pipeline from the Canning Basin to the Pilbara. Here it can tie into the Dampier to Bunbury pipeline bringing Canning Basin gas to both the domestic market in the South West and export facilities in the North West.

The Bill also requires Buru to continue to investigate gas reserves in time for a 2016 final investment decision on the construction of the pipeline and associated infrastructure.

Acquisition of land at James Price point would allow processing of shale gas as well as offshore gas.

Watch the video [ 8 mins. ]

Buru Energy

Buru Energy is planning to use the controversial process of fracking in five gas wells between Broome and Derby.

Buru's 2010 fracking program took place on the traditional country of the Yawuru people of Broome and surrounds. Following this fracking program, Yawuru Chairman Patrick Dodson said that Yawuru people are opposed to fracking on Yawuru country until they can be satisfied that it doesn't pose a risk. It's a position that remains unchanged.

But with fracking essential to extracting most Canning Basin gas, an Indigenous veto would seem highly unlikely. Mr Dodson acknowledges that traditional owners do not have legal power to influence fracking in the Kimberley.

"We don't have the capacity to stop these things from happening, but we do have a responsibility to make sure our people are given the best opportunity to make free, prior and informed consent over proposals on their land."

Read ABC article no. 1 [online]

Read ABC article no. 2 [online]


Big Jump In Mining In Kimberley

The Centre for Conservation Geography analysed the extent of mining and exploration leases across the region and identified a 500 per cent increase in mining activity in the past decade. It also found current and proposed mines in the Kimberley are threatening
80 per cent of the area's rivers, wetlands and flood plains.

Rupert Quinlan from the Pew Environment Group, which commissioned the study, says the findings are significant because of the detrimental impacts mining can have on the environment. "What we're seeing is that mining doesn't have boundaries, mining can occur anywhere under the current legislation," he said. Mr Quinlan says the State Government needs to implement a regional plan to protect areas of environmental significance. 

Read More
Map showing Kimberley mining leases and exploration, November 2012 

Water Resources & Mining

Executive summary

This report provides an overview of the mine void issue, the creation of pit lakes and associated hydrogeological processes, an assessment of the potential impacts on groundwater resources, and water management considerations at mine closure. The report outlines the technical information required for the compilation of recommended guidelines, which will assist the mining industry in gaining environmental approvals related to proposed developments below the water table. Eighteen case studies (detailed in Appendix 1) have also been completed to highlight differences between groundwater environments, regional setting and mine closure options.

Mining is leaving a legacy of hundreds of mine voids throughout the State. There are numerous safety issues that must be addressed as part of mine closure and, until recently, there had been no assessment of the potential long-term environmental impacts of mining below the water table. The mine void issue is vitally important to both the Government and mining industry, as neither wishes to be liable for rehabilitation or stabilisation of a mine void over a period of decades or possibly millennia. In Australia, mine void issues have previously focused on the coal mining industry, sand mining, and politically sensitive mines in the tropical areas of the Northern Territory.

Mine void-related impacts are a long-term concern for Western Australia, as there are currently about 1800 existing mine voids and more than 150 mines operating below the watertable. The size of mine voids varies from borrow pits (about 100 m in diameter) to the enormous pits in the Goldfields and Pilbara. The larger mines require substantial groundwater abstraction (dewatering) from sumps or in-pit/perimeter bores to facilitate dry-floor mining practices. On cessation of dewatering, the waterlevel recovers to create a ‘pit lake’ within the mine void, thus initiating geochemical and hydrological processes that evolve with time. The infilling of the void with water may take centuries, with chemical evolution via evaporation continuing much longer.

There is potential for many pit lakes in Western Australia to become point sources of hypersaline water and impact on the surrounding groundwater resources. The low annual rainfall and high evaporation experienced over much of the State produces a rainfall deficit, which contributes to the development of hyper-saline water bodies. There are also potential problems with the generation of acidic conditions in pit lakes, particularly for the coal mining industry in the higher rainfall, southwest region and a few isolated metalliferous mines.

The salinisation and acidification of pit lakes has the ability to affect local and regional groundwater resources, as well as the broader natural environment. The extent of impact on the surrounding groundwater environment is largely dependent on the local hydrogeology, as to whether the mine void will act as a (1) groundwater sink or (2) groundwater through-flow cell. In the groundwater sink regime, evaporation exceeds the rate of groundwater inflow into the void and is typical of most hard-rock mines throughout Western Australia. Mine voids where groundwater inflow exceeds evaporation act as a ‘groundwater through-flow’ type, forming potential environmental hazards with saline plumes moving out of the void and affecting other groundwater resources.


Rey Resources Mining Application

March 25 2011

The mining company Rey Resources has applied for permission to mine coal and uranium in a large area of the lands of Nyikina people, centred on what wasLower Liveringa Station, but extending into the Great Sandy Desert and endangering Mardoowarra itself. The current application refers only to the Duchess Paradise Resource, but as this development is intended to generate finance for further exploration and extraction, the full extent of Rey Resources' proposals can be seen on these maps.

Submissions about the proposal close on 25 April 2011. The processes of approval should include more consultations with the people of the valley and consideration of the greater importance of its natural ecosystems. Mardoowarra flows through an area which has been earmarked for Heritage Listing and its natural and ecological values should be protected and nurtured for all future generations, including all Australians and overseas visitors.

April 27 2011

The Mining Warden has recommended that the application be approved. Definitive Feasibility Study (advanced work) is due to begin in June 2011.

June 6 2011

Rey Resources announcement on ASX : (first page only)

"Maiden coal reserve at Duchess Paradise"

" Initial Coal Reserve estimate in upper (P1) seam of 26.3 Mt

Mine plan currently allows 10 year life and sales at approximately 2Mt pa

DFS on track for completion in June 2011

Drilling due to start in June has the objectives of expanding shallow
reserves by converting Inferred resources to reserves, defining
potential underground reserves and exploring new outcrop areas

Rey Resources Limited (ASX: REY; “Rey Resources”) is pleased to announce its maiden
reserve for the potential Duchess Paradise thermal coal project. The reserve statement is
based upon part of the Measured and Indicated resources of the upper (P1) seam and
follows the resource up-date of the P1 seam at Duchess Paradise in April 2011 and further
mine planning as part of the DFS.

“The calculation of a thermal coal reserve is considered a major step in bringing us closer to
an initial mining operation at Duchess Paradise, subject to the DFS outcomes and regulatory
and other approvals,” said Rey Resources’ Managing Director, Kevin Wilson.

Rey Resources engaged Marshall Miller & Associates, Inc. (“MM&A”) to prepare a coal
resource estimate for the P1 coal seam in the Duchess Paradise area in the northwest of
Western Australia, which was completed in March 2011. Subsequently, MM&A were also
engaged to prepare a statement of coal reserves based on the resource, consistent with
JORC guidelines."

Coal and Seam Gas Information

This is a list of organisations that provide information about mining, water governance and integrated water management.


The online activist group GetUp has created an interactive mapshowing all the coal seam gas reserves and mining wells across the country.

Check it out at

Conservation Council of W.A.
Coal and uranium mining in the Kimberley
While many know about the gas hub proposed north of Broome there are plans for equally damaging coal and uranium mines inland. (PERTH)
Anti-coal protesters have ramped up their campaign against an underground coal mine near Margaret River, launching a series of print and television advertisements.
There has been strong community opposition to plans by LD Operations to establish the mine at Osmington.
The documentary film maker Michael Muntz is behind the ads which will run on commercial television and in newspapers throughout WA in coming weeks.

Special projects
Fitzroy surface water - groundwater interaction project, runs for 3 years and is funded by the National Water Commission. The objectives of the project are to improve our understanding of the hydrologic processes of the Fitzroy River including groundwater and surface water interactions
Conservation Council of W.A.
Personal Comments | No new coal for WA
The Mardoowarra-Fitzroy River is living water; it is rich with biodiversity in the water, the land, the sky and the spirit. We are Australians and we want ...
Kimberley Traditional Owner supports No New Coal campaign
Address to the No New Coal Rally on Saturday 11th December 2010
A Safe Climate is a Human Right

Rising Tide Newcastle

Mail: PO Box 290 Newcastle, 2300
Email: risingtide AT risingtide DOT org DOT au
Phone: Steve Denshire on +61 402 556 420
Across Australia, productive, environmentally sustainable farming land is under threat. In 20 years when the windfall for the state coffers has ended and the world no longer wants coal, Australia will stand condemned on the world stage for its greedy rapacious ways and environmental vandalism.
Contact Executive Officers : Stewart Even, Graeme Gibson
For more information about Lock The Gate events and initiatives go to
About Hunter-Bulga Gas Action Group
“In the interest of accuracy and accountability, Sydney Gas, its partners, contractors, employees shareholders and other associated individuals and groups are invited to comment, address or correct any of the information contained in this website and in other material disseminated via alternate means or media.”
The North East Forest Alliance is calling for an immediate moratorium on any further coal seam gas approvals in New South Wales.
Caroona Coal Action Group

Abbott cautious about floodplain mining Posted January 27, 2010 11:08:00
Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says he is opposed to further mining on the Liverpool Plains until a thorough examination of the region's underground aquifers is done.
He made the comments during a tour of a soil carbon operation on a property at Spring Ridge.
Mr Abbott says he is aware of two Senate inquiries that have recommended a halt to exploration until independent water data is collected.
The Opposition Leader says the floodplain is too important as a food bowl to jeopardise its future.
DEMAND for Australia's key exports to Japan -- coal, iron ore and liquefied natural gas -- is set to rise in the wake of the massive earthquake destruction,...
The Australian 2011-03-14
Safe Climate Perth launches anti-coal campaign
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Perth presentation of over 8000 signatures against new coal

Six Degrees is a campaign of Friends of the Earth Brisbane. We work with communities and groups to reduce Queensland's dependence on coal , and to ensure a

... including:
What happens when a energy company plans to mine your property?  And
You need to know your legal rights: (XSTRATA)
Environmental Management System

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Coal and Uranium Mining in the Kimberley

While many know about the gas hub proposed north of Broome there
are plans for equally damaging coal and uranium mines inland.

Image: Environs Kimberley 

Extensive coal and uranium tenements are being explored by Australia's Rey Resourcesin the West Kimberley. These proposed coal and uranium mines are on the traditional lands of the Nyikina-Mangala people adjacent to the Fitzroy River.The river is sacred and culturally significant to a number of traditional owners groups.

Rey Resources plans to establish large-scale coal mining operations in the area and in May 2009 announced their intention to commence pre-feasibility studies for development of the estimated 500 million tonne (Mt) Duchess- Paradise coal reserves in the Canning basin (see map).

Recently Rey Resources also entered into a joint venture partnership with UraniumExploration Australia to confirm the extent of uranium resources at their Myroodahtenements which straddle the Fitzroy river. Rey Resources propose to export 2 Mt per annum of thermal coal to India through the existing port in Derby. However a proposed coal terminal at Point Torment wouldenable exports to rise to 6 Mtpa in the medium term and 10Mtpa in the longer term. Rey Resources propose to mine the coal using both open cut surface mining and high wall mining (see image above). If allowed to proceed this mine would displace hundreds of millions of tonnes of soil and waste rock.

Even if the company backfills the open cut pits with waste rock, the potential for landscape collapse and alteration to groundwater flow patterns will still exist.

Water extraction from the Fitzroy river is likely to skyrocket because coal mines are a massive user of water. Add to this the increase in dust, pollution, noise, and traffic along the Great Western highway, and the impact will be felt across the Kimberley region.