Landholder fears impact of mining
NOTHING shakes Wayne Adamson’s faith in the future more than hearing an exploratory coal drilling program on the Southern Downs is “progressing very well”.
The Mount Marshall landholder put every plan he had for his grazing property on hold when he heard the Sydney-based Clean Global Energy (CGE) company was in the neighbourhood.
He is immobilised by the impact he fears mining will have on the pristine farming land and stable underground water supplies local farmers have relied on for more than a century.
“There is substantial evidence these forms of mining development impact on underground water supplies,” Mr Adamson said.
“I invested here purely because the land was fertile and there was a good supply of high quality bore water.
“If mining goes ahead in this region, there is a very real risk those water supplies will be adversely affected.
“We can’t do anything without water.”
Speaking with the Daily News CGE managing director and chairman John Harkins said a drilling program to look for coal sources in our region was progressing very well.
But he offered assurances to landholders and the broader community that water supplies would not be adversely affected by the company’s activities.
“IF the results (in the Southern Downs) were to reveal that there was a potential project we would then immediately engage with the community and then assure them that anything we did there was going to be of minimalist disruption,” Mr Harkins said.
“We’re an environmentally-sound company; our program is designed to have absolute minimalist impact on the environment.
“There would never be an open-cut mine.”
Mr Harkins said extensive worldwide testing had clearly shown that there would be minimal impact on underground aquifers from underground coal gasification.
“(The testing) clearly shows that there is significantly less impact on the environment more broadly and then secondly, because we’re drilling so deep, farming land water tends to be well above where we would be gasifying the coal,” he said. “We’re not about bringing the bulldozers in and scarifying the landscape and forcing people off their land. That’s not what we’re about.”
Last month CGE started an underground search throughout the Southern Downs to locate coal sources, which may be suitable for use in an “environmentally-friendly” underground coal gasification process to provide low-cost energy.
Mr Harkins was unable to say where exactly within our region CGE was drilling, however the Daily News understands exploratory drilling was underway in the Goomburra, Mount Marshall, Gladfield and Maryvale districts.
“We’ve nominated a few sites that are giving us a broad peripheral indication in the coal lease that we have there and once the results of the drilling is known we would then take further decisions as to what we do in the future,” he said.
“Depending on the results, we certainly have aspirations to develop the potential for a small commercial pilot plant.”
Mr Harkins said this small commercial pilot plant, if built, would involve drilling two “wells”.
But Mr Adamson remained unconvinced.
He warned fellow landholders against complacency urging them to “stand up and fight” for the right to preserve their farms.
“We just can’t sit back and wait for the worse to happen,” Mr Adamson said.
“You can’t get back the water after the underground levels drop.
“I am angry and worried. These mining companies are just coming into prime rural areas and jeopardising what people have worked their whole lives and in some cases generations to build.
“This is about short term greed affecting our future.
“We can’t be complacent we need to protect our land, which is the legacy of future generations.”