“WaterNSW considers that it’s attainable that floor water losses may very well be as much as double these which have been assessed [by South32, or] within the order of 6-7 gigalitres a 12 months,” it stated.
The enlargement plan has secured help from the Planning Division regardless of the considerations.
“The division has advisable a complete and precautionary suite of situations to make sure that, if the venture is permitted, it complies with modern standards and requirements, and to successfully minimise, handle or compensate for any impacts,” a spokesman stated, including it had “totally thought-about” WaterNSW’s long-standing considerations.
A spokesman for South32 stated the corporate took its “environmental duties significantly and we perceive the sensitivities of working inside the Metropolitan Particular Space”.
“The Dendrobium Mine Extension Venture has been designed to minimise impacts on the native setting and we’re dedicated to long-term detailed monitoring and mitigation measures earlier than, throughout and after mining,” he stated, including “we won’t mine beneath dams, named watercourses or key stream options”.
South32 additionally highlighted the venture’s financial advantages, together with continued employment of as many as 500 individuals and $714 million in royalties, taxes and charges.
Peter Turner, a mining tasks officer with the Nationwide Parks Affiliation, stated it was “astounding that Planning has urged approval for this overtly reckless and greed-driven proposal”, regardless of figuring out water losses would seemingly be everlasting given the issue of remediating the mine.
“Planning has advisable approval lower than a 12 months after falling reservoir ranges triggered fast-track planning for enlargement of the [Sydney] desalination plant,” Dr Turner stated.
He additionally famous that WaterNSW’s assessed losses could also be conservative given a 2018 examine commissioned by the company had indicated they may very well be as a lot as 24 million litres a day.
“If the proposed mining is permitted then the online floor water loss brought on by mines within the Particular Areas may attain 33 to 38 million litres a day, or 13 to 15 per cent the present capability of desalination plant,” Dr Turner stated.
Peter Dupin, a senior hydrogeologist and former WaterNSW mining supervisor, stated WaterNSW’s estimated water losses have been “very conservative” based mostly on that 2018 examine.
The seemingly losses can be “a really substantial extra take to an already monumental cumulative discount in catchment yields for Sydney’s water provide,” Mr Dupin stated in a separate submission.
“The extent and severity of impacts which have occurred within the catchments overlying the Dendrobium Mine are extraordinary,” he stated. “To my information there has by no means beforehand been a deep underground mine over which all of the undermined streams and swamps have nearly instantaneously and completely dried.”
The Impartial Planning Fee is predicted to provide its verdict on the enlargement plan on January 22.
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Peter Hannam writes on setting points for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.