At a packed full community meeting of 150 people in Bacchus Marsh on Tuesday night, the Moorabool Environment Group announced they had joined the Lock the Gate Alliance. This alliance consists of landholders, community groups and people across Eastern Australia who are concerned about Coal Seam Gas (CSG) mining and new coal mine proposals.
In Queensland and New South Wales CSG mining has become extraordinarily widespread with thousands of mines across the landscape, especially in areas such as Oakey and Acland in the Darling Downs where entire towns have been abandoned. Landholders have little recourse to prevent the developments on their land and many have taken to closing their gates and displaying signs that express their opposition to CSG on their land.
Mantle Mining, the company that has been conducting exploratory drilling in the Parwan area close to Bacchus Marsh, also had an announcement to make this week. They released some results from the drilling for four bore holes that they say shows a greater thickness of coal than anticipated. Mantle Mining hope to discover 1-2 billion tonnes of coal in their licence area, stretching from Bacchus Marsh to the eastern side of Ballan and south to Fiskville and Balliang.
The results released by Mantle Mining show thickest coal deposits near the Bacchus Marsh water treatment plant, the airport and by Exford Road, Parwan. However results from a bore hole on the western side of the airport showed coal deposits just 5.5 metres deep. Mantle Mining say that across the four drill hole sites they have released results for, coal thickness is 25 percent greater than predicted.
Those gathered at the community meeting organised by Moorabool Environment Group heard about their legal rights, outlined by Nick Croggon from the Environment Defenders Office (EDO). Nick explained the points in the process where the community had the opportunity to object and have their views heard. These are outlined in a fact sheet produced by the Environment Defenders Office.
The second guest speaker for the night was Shaun Murray from Friends of the Earth and Switch Off Coal Collective who managed to get the issue of coal mining in Bacchus Marsh in the national media. In September this year, Shaun climbed a drilling rig and locked himself onto the top of it for several hours.
Shaun told the meeting they had the support of people from Melbourne in their fight against the open cut coal mining proposed by Mantle Mining. Melbourne-based activists have previously locked themselves together in a sit-in protest at Cygnet Capital's Melbourne offices. Cygnet Capital became financial underwriters for Mantle Mining after Intersuisse withdrew their support earlier this year.
Kate Tubbs appealed to meeting attendees to take what actions they were comfortable with to oppose the mining project. Moorabool Environment Group are especially encouraging people to focus on writing to the Baillieu Government who have the power to intervene and refuse a mining licence to Mantle Mining.
According to Kate, property prices are already being impacted by the mining proposal from Mantle Mining and that Moorabool shire ratepayers and Victorian taxpayers would foot the bill for infrastructure impacted by the porposed mine. She read a statement from the Baillieu government that said while they were sympathetic to landholders in the area, they wanted to encourage mining in Victoria.
If you missed the meeting, you can watch most of the proceedings on video here. If you've got an opinion on the project, we'd love to hear your view in the comments below. If you want to make your opinion known to the Baillieu Government, here are some contacts:
Minister for Environment and Climate Change
Level 17 / 8 Nicholson St
Phone: 9637 8890
Minister for Energy and Resources
Level 22, 1 Spring St
Phone: 9938 5963
Minister for Agriculture, Water and Food Security
Level 20, 1 Spring St
Phone: 9938 5954
Level 1, 1 Treasury Place
Phone: 9651 5000