Cobbora's water needs raise doubts about project

THE supply of water for the proposed $A1.3 billion Cobbora Coal Project near Mudgee, New South Wales, is emerging as a major community issue as nearby councils question the impact of it drawing water from the Cudgegong River on the local economy.
Cobbora's water needs raise doubts about project Cobbora's water needs raise doubts about project Cobbora's water needs raise doubts about project Cobbora's water needs raise doubts about project Cobbora's water needs raise doubts about project

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State-owned utilities Macquarie Generation, Delta Electricity and Eraring Energy have formed an unincorporated joint venture to back the project, CCP Holdings, but aim to secure a mining company to develop and operate the mine.

The JV is seeking state government approval to mine 30 million tonnes per annum of raw coal and produce 20Mtpa of product coal. Open cut mining is slated to start in 2013 for a life of 21 years.

Mid-west regional councillors said CCP Holdings had applied to build a pump station at the river that could threaten the area’s water security, tourism and rural industries.

CCP Holdings’ application to the NSW Office of Water includes two 385mm axial flow pumps, each capable of pumping 336 litres of water a second – enabling it to pump two gigalitres of water a year from the river, half of the project’s yearly requirements.

Mid West councillor Elwyn Lang claims there has been inadequate consultation with local residents and business and not enough discussion about the effect of having so much water pumped from Cudgegong River.

Cr Lang said the two gigalitres of water CCP Holdings proposed to pump equalled the water allocation for the entire Mudgee township.

“Taking that amount of water out of the river has the potential in the long-term to reduce the security of water rights held by council and other water users who rely on the river,” he said.

“I have said before and I will say again, that I am not against mining.

“I fully recognise the benefits our existing coal mines have brought to the region, but the mid-western region has a lot more than mining, our booming tourism industry and farming enterprises which rely on water must be protected at all costs.

“We need the State Government to start, right now, considering the cumulative impact of all these fragmented decisions by the various agencies.

“We need the State Government to keep us informed of what is taking place and to adequately engage our community before making decisions about our future.”

If approved, the pumping house could take up to 10.4 megalitres of water a day out of the Cudgegong River.

CCP Holdings is proposing to process the coal through one 20Mtpa coal-handling and preparation plant and also seek approval for two water pipelines and a 25km rail spur line.

In its preliminary environmental assessment, consultancy Environmental Resources Management Australia estimated the Cobbora mine will need 4 gigalitres a year for dust suppression and to operate the CHPP.

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