Controversy over Margaret River coal project

A JOINT venture of private companies is facing early community opposition to its Vasse coal project to establish an underground coal mine 15km away from the township of Margaret River – a popular tourist mecca in Western Australia.
Controversy over Margaret River coal project Controversy over Margaret River coal project Controversy over Margaret River coal project Controversy over Margaret River coal project Controversy over Margaret River coal project

Image courtesy of the Shire of Augusta Margaret River.

Blair Price

Rio Tinto used to own the project and did a lot of the exploration.

But the Vasse Coal Management JV is the current owner of the project and consists of private Australian company Vasse Coal and AMCI’s wholly owned subsidiary South West Coal.

Singelton-based contract mining company LD Operations is working on the documentation to submit to the WA state government under the mine approval process.

LDO said it will facilitate the mine approvals, feasibility and mine development of the project, which is the first underground coal mine proposal in the state for many years.

“The underground coal project has the potential to directly employ some 200 personnel in the mine and related operations,” LDO said.

“It is anticipated that the project could also generate a further 800 jobs in the local community in support and service to the operation.”

LDO said it would use its expertise to ensure the construction of a safe, environmentally responsible and profitable mine.

Bunbury-based Strategen Environmental Consultants is commissioned to assist the environmental assessment process.

“Numerous in-depth ecological, social impact and mine design studies are scheduled to be undertaken over the coming months,” LDO said.

“A consultation program is currently underway with state and local government representatives and we have been working closely with our direct neighbours over the past 12 months.

“We will continue to work closely with the community in a transparent, consultative and constructive manner to ensure the project is an asset to the South West region.

“Community consultation is underway with immediate neighbours, and plans are afoot to regularly convene a Community Consultative Committee meeting with representatives of various stakeholders invited to attend.”

Nevertheless, there is some outrage amongst Margaret River residents, who fear the mine will impact the town’s tourism earnings.

Augusta-Margaret River region shire president Ray Colyer told ILN the project was “new news” to a lot of people in the community and a lot of people do not understand the mining process or do not have much information on the proposed mine.

“A lot of the opinion in the community at this stage is probably based on historical knowledge of open cut or underground coal mines,” he said.

“So this is obviously a new coal mine, underground, and a lot of the environmental and visual concerns may be addressed when more information is out from the developer.”

He added the shire does not have an opinion on the project at this stage.

The shire has had a one-hour briefing on the project from the developer.

While LDO has no ownership of the Vasse coal project, the contract company did recently pick up some ownership of the Chain Valley colliery as part of a consortium which bought the New South Wales mine off Peabody Energy.

ILN is seeking more information on the Vasse coal project from WA’s Department of Mines and Petroleum.

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