In what can only be seen as a confusing turn of events the NSW Farmers have agreed that underground mining should take place on public land in a motion raised by the Coonabarabran Farmers Association at the NSW Farmers Annual Conference. At that same conference farmers also voted that a moratorium on mining and CSG should be looked into more before the membership could vote on it – and that the Shenhua mine approval should be immediately stopped. Confusing because the issues that affect farmers when it comes to mining of all types – water use, contamination of land and water, air pollution, subsidence, exist whether on public or private land.
Currently the NSW Farmers are asking the public to support them by sending an open letter to Greg Hunt MP, calling for the Shenhua Mine approvals to be denied because “If mining can happen on the Liverpool Plains, it can happen anywhere.” The Liverpool Plains has a great deal of public land – as does the Warrumbungle Shire area where the Coonabarabran farmers are from. The Warrumbungle Shire also covers a large area of the Gunnedah Coal Field which the Shenhua is set to mine. That coal can be mined by above and underground methods, both methods use large amounts of water and cause long term contamination of the surrounding areas. How long clean up actually takes is unknown, though at least 90 years.
One has to wonder why the farmers of Coonabarabran are supporting mining in any form in sensitive areas like the Liverpool Plains or the Warrumbungle Shire when there is the opportunity to put pressure the mining industry clean up its act and focus on the future rather than immediate monetary gains.