Local groups want UCG ban

COMMUNITY: A wide range of community groups gathering in Copley.
COMMUNITY: A wide range of community groups gathering in Copley.

Leigh Creek Energy’s (LCK) proposed Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) mine at Leigh Creek has faced large amounts of criticism from a wide range of local groups.

And they want UCG banned in South Australia.

Copley resident Nigel Carney believes UCG is too dangerous for many reasons.

“In my opinion the big concern is that UCG is an unknown and dangerous technology,” Mr Carney said.

Mr Carney attended a meeting in Copley on September 7 along with 35 other residents from Coppley and surrounding areas where they voiced their concerns over LCK’s exploration drilling and proposed UCG mine.

“Everyone at the meeting is well informed about what’s happened in Queensland and the bans of UCG around the world so no-one wants any risks taken to water, air or soil.

“That was the remarkable thing...were basically saying the same thing – we do not want UCG in this region.”

UCG is banned in Queensland as state government policy with the Queensland state government planning to ban UCG via legislation by the end of this year.

It follows three UCG pilot projects in Queensland — Carbon Energy near Dalby, Cougar Energy near Kingaroy and Linc Energy at Chinchilla.

Linc Energy faces five counts of willfully and unlawfully causing serious environmental harm at its Hopeland UCG plant on Queensland's western Darling Downs.

Linc Energy is accused of contaminating large areas of prime cropping land in the area. The charges were placed in March this year and Linc Energy went into Liquidation in May.

A Queensland government-commissioned study found soil near the facility had been permanently acidified.

Mr Carney also believes LCK didn’t engage the community about its exploration drilling to an adequate standard, and it’s caused a wide range of groups to come together.

“The big issue is that everyone up here loves the land up here and wants to see the stoppage of damage...and water is sacred and precious up here. You can disagree on all things in a small community.”

“But when you start talking about a company with a bad reputation that is about to go ahead with a test experimental technology that has caused the biggest disaster in Queensland environmental history everyone comes out of the woodworks.”

COMMUNITY: Various groups from Leigh Creek and surrounding areas say they're against an underground coal gasification mine proposal. Photo provided by social media.

COMMUNITY: Various groups from Leigh Creek and surrounding areas say they're against an underground coal gasification mine proposal. Photo provided by social media.

Camp Law Mob member Lesley Coulthard says she ‘wants the whole place re-vegetated and left alone’.

“The biggest concern with the Camp Law Mob is the heritage, environment, the food we eat and the water source,” Ms Coulthard said.

“We live on our bush tucker, every black fella lives on their bush tucker.

“If the project went ahead it’d be a disaster for their food, water source and environment.”

Ms Coulthard also says the site is important to the Adnyamathanha culture and the dreamtime story of Yurlu the kingfisher man.

With other mining ventures in SA’s far north, Ms Coulthard says she feels like she’s on an ‘island with mines’.

”Gas is not doing any good, we’ere surrounded by all the mines...copper over the other side, uraniaum over one side, Roxby Downs with uranium and down the road I’ve got a zinc (mine).

“We want the environment to be healthy...You get foul smells when the north wind comes through or after rain. There’s newborn babies, children starting school, and we’re worried about them.”

Local Pastoralist Ian Ferguson was unable to attend but provided a letter directed to the state Department for State Development outlining his concerns.

Mr Ferguson has been the manager of the North Moolooloo Station since 1977, with his family operating the station since 1898.

“This district is totally relied on our sub-artesian water table for our stock and domestic use. The possibility of contamination of our underground water and soil is too big a risk to take on untried or unsuccessful technology,” Mr Ferguson said.

“I don’t want the Flinders Ranges to be another Chinchilla.

“I want the Leigh Creek township to survive but not at the risk of the whole local area. I hope you can see our point of view and take this into consideration.”

Many members who attended the meeting have supported a ban on UCG in SA by Greens Member of Legislative Chamber Mark Parnell.

Greens SA and Mr Parnell are calling for the SA Government to ‘follow the lead’ of their counterparts in Queensland and ban the practice of UCG in SA.

Minister for State Development Tom Koutsantonis has previously provided the folliowing statement.

"The (LCK) Project is still subject to rigorous environmental impact assessments overseen by expert scientists before this project can progress,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

"We have a very effective regulatory framework in South Australia and the merits of the Leigh Creek Energy project will be assessed against that framework, not a political decision in Queensland."

LCK was contacted but was unavailable for comment.