Copley community fights against UCG

PROTEST: Copley community members hold a public protest against the Leigh Creek Energy Project. PHOTO: provided.
PROTEST: Copley community members hold a public protest against the Leigh Creek Energy Project. PHOTO: provided.

“Sacred land. No UCG. Gas off now.”

That was the message from Copley community members during a public protest against underground coal gasification (UCG) in Leigh Creek on Friday, June 1.

As state government and Leigh Creek Energy come closer to producing first gas for the Leigh Creek Energy Project (LCEP), protesters made their feelings known.

Conservation SA Chief Executive Craig Wilkins said the community’s concerns came as no surprise.

“There is a lot of community anger about this. It’s been rapidly building and is now starting to spill out onto the streets,” Mr Wilkins said. 

“The Marshall government needs to listen to traditional owners, environmental experts and the community and reject the proposed trial.”

Conservation SA’s strong opposition for the project was equally matched by that of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA).

“We say no to the gasification project for our grandchildren and their grandchildren and many generations to come because this project could poison our people forever,” ATLA said in a statement.

UCG, also known as in-situ gasification, is a process that involves extracting gas from coal seams.

The process was banned in Queensland after Linc Energy’s project near Chinchilla led to widespread contamination.

However, a report completed in April 2018 by state government’s Energy Resources Division dispelled comparisons between the Chinchilla project and LCEP.

In the report, titled ‘Assessment of Leigh Creek Energy UCG Trial Proposal’, the author states that issues at the Chinchilla site came as a result of “driving operational practices that exceeded the natural geological containment of the site”.

The report declared the abandoned Leigh Creek mining area to be a site that “meets established best practice criteria for minimising environmental risks”.

Energy and Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said he shares some of the concerns for the project, but would see how the trial progresses before making a full assessment.