Licence suspension calls as mining blast ‘billows over vineyards’

27/10/2018 Posted by admin

The cloud, which vignerons allege floated over farmland after a blast at Mount Thorley Warkworth on Friday. HUNTER vignerons are calling on the state government to investigate Yancoal’s Mount Thorley Warkworth mine, alleging acloud of orange dust floated over farmland in the region last week.
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Farmers said the orange dust was sparked by a blast at the mine shortly before midday on Friday, but the mine refutes suggestions it did not dissipate over mining areas.

Bainton Family Wines’ Antony Bainton said landholders had written to the Department of Planning seeking an investigation and a suspension of their licence until Yancoal demonstrates it can blast “without creating environmental harm”.

“This is not an isolated incident,” he said.

“These mines are huge and they are causing pollution that is damaging people’s health.

“The least the government could do is ensure they are complying with their licences. We need better protection.”

Broke vigneron Stewart Ewan said the Broke-Fordwich area lacked sufficient protection from mining.

“We get blanketed by pollution at times, and the land mapped five years ago as a critical industry cluster for our industry is not protected from expanding coal mines,” he said.

“The physical and economic damage caused by open cut mining remains a serious blight on our environment.

“The air quality in the Hunter over the summer and autumn has been terrible. We’ve been getting frequent alerts that it breaches the standard, but what’s being done to change it?”

A Yancoal spokesman said the blast was initiated at 11.51am and did create some dust due to the fact light, sandy dispersive soil was blasted.

“The subsequent plume was observed to cross the Putty road, where it then dissipated over the Mt Thorley and Bulga Mine areas,” the spokesman said.

“The Bulga mine was notified prior to the blast and confirmed dissipation occurred over their land.”

He said the company took its responsibility for managing blasts serious, monitored impacts and had a proven history of responsible environmental management.

“We refute the accusations related to the blast, as well as the deliberately inflammatory remarks made against our people regarding their respect for surrounding industries.”

Lock the Gate Alliance’s Georgina Woods said the group supported safeguards for the wineries.

“That means enforcing environmental conditions and ensuring our industry is safe from being gobbled up by expanding coal mines,” she said.

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