TEMPERS flared again this week with Bickham Coal’s exploration licence falling due for renewal on May 27.
Bickham Coal-mine Action Group (BCAG) chairman Peter Haydon said he would be disappointed if the controversial coal mine’s licence was renewed.
“Firstly, the government has covered the site with a SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policies) prohibiting open cut mining,” Mr Haydon said.
“Secondly, the government has said the site is a designated area for protection from mining in its Strategic Regional Land Use Plan.
“It makes no difference if it is an underground or open cut mine as the issues are exactly the same. It is the same coal seams with the same water issues which scientifically and technically have been so thoroughly investigated -
and rejected - as a mining site by the government.
“It will become a farcical situation if the government allows exploration to continue on a site they have so clearly protected,” Mr Haydon said.
Bickham Coal director, John Richards disagreed.
“Bickham Coal has only ever asked for fair and proper process to be followed, which is why an underground mine should be considered on its merits,” Mr
Richards said. “We truly appreciate the many people who have quietly come forward offering support and best wishes for what could be a solid economic and employment opportunity for the Upper Hunter.
“It’s misleading to suggest that an open cut and underground mine are the same, when in fact they are quite different and have different impacts which should be assessed in each case.
“That’s why full and objective analysis should be undertaken on each project,” Mr Richards said.