STRATFORD COAL MINE

The Stratford Coal Mine commenced operations in 1995. It was presented to the community as a “boutique” mine. It was to have a negligible impact on surrounding residents and a short life of eight years, after which it would be closed and the site rehabilitated. The land was to be returned for farming and it was proposed that the void be used for aquatic recreation.
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This did not happen.

Instead, two additional open cut pits were approved and developed at Stratford. The Duralie Coal Mine was also approved and developed, with its coal railed to Stratford for processing. Mining and attendant coal handling and processing has extended way beyond the timeframe that the community was originally asked to support.

In 2006 Gloucester Coal announced plans for further expansion that would extend mining operations until 2030. From this time, the company began purchasing a large number of properties between Forbesdale and Duralie.

The state-owned Chinese company Yancoal Australia assumed ownership of the Stratford and Duralie Coal Mines in 2012. The impact of this is that the Chinese Government is now the largest landholder in the Gloucester Stroud Valley.

Later that year, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the so-called Stratford Extension Project was released for public comment. This project will expand and extend mining at Stratford for a further eleven years through the simultaneous development of three huge new pits, one of which will extend to within 1000 metres of Stratford village.

The negative impacts of mining operations at Stratford on the residents of Stratford and Craven are well documented through the complaints record and the deliberations of the Community Consultative Committee (CCC) over many years. These impacts primarily go to issues such as noise, blasting and air and water quality.

A controversial and strongly opposed aspect of the Stratford Extension Project is a return to 24-hour mining operations.

The original development consent for the Stratford Main Pit permitted 24-hour mining operation. This imposed an intolerable noise burden on the community, resulting in sleep deprivation and ill health and causing considerable stress and anxiety.

Consequently, as a result of public representations and in recognition of the intolerable noise burden imposed on the community, subsequent development consents did not allow 24-hour mining operation.

The piecemeal nature of the expansion of Stratford Coal Mine’s operations since 1995 has avoided any scrutiny of the cumulative human and environmental impacts of its total mining operations that have now been extant for 20 years.
A casual reading of the Stratford Extension Project EIS would suggest that the only negative impact of the project on neighbouring residents will result from noise, and then only on those who fall within project specific “noise contours”. And these impacts will be able to be “managed”.
The reality is quite different. Coal mining has a very large “footprint” in terms of effects beyond the immediate project area and every landowner falling within this footprint will be impacted.

These landholders’ capital investment in their properties becomes frozen because proximity to a mine does not attract buyers and the unsaleable properties effectively become worthless.

The landowners become trapped, unable to sell, unable to get out, unable to realise their life plans, unable to respond as necessary to changed circumstances.

This is an insidious impact that is never acknowledged or discussed. These landowners simply become “collateral damage” and bare a very real and significant social cost.

Local real estate agents confirm that properties within the vicinity of the Stratford Coal Mine have not been able to be sold for many years. The only properties that have changed hands are those that have been purchased by Yancoal Australia.

Despite widespread community opposition to the expansion, including that of Gloucester Shire Council, the Planning Assessment Commission approved the Stratford Extension project in 2015.

Due to low coal prices, Yancoal Australia has “mothballed” the Stratford Extension Project. No mining is currently being undertaken at Stratford but the Coal Handling and Processing Plant (CHPP) is continuing to process coal railed from the Duralie.


LINKS

See the following documents relating to the Stratford Extension Project:

Environmental Impact Statements
GSC Submission
BGSPA Submission:
- Part 1: Environmental Impact Statement
- Part 2: List of Contributors & Their Field of Expertise
- Part 3: Economists At Large: Review of Stratford Extension Project EIS
- Part 4: Submission Regarding Social and Economic Issues

Planning Assessment Commission Review
BGSPA Submission
BGSPA Transcript of Presentation by Graeme Healy, Chair

Planning Assessment Commission Determination
BGSPA Submission

Community • Democracy • Future • Participation • Action

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