Ferguson to face mining concerns

FEDERAL Resources Minister Martin Ferguson will visit the Liverpool Plains in New South Wales today after an invitation from independent MP Tony Windsor – an established opponent of coal mining in the region.
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Federal Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson

Blair Price

Windsor has long called for an independent water study to be undertaken in the Namoi Valley and backs up farmers who protest against coal mining projects.

Projects in the Liverpool Plains/Gunnedah region have frequently attracted controversy, either due to subsidence, dust or water contamination fears.

A March Supreme Court decision in favour of anti-mining farmers and against BHP Billiton’s Caroona Coal project in the area caused land access headaches for exploration across NSW until the state government passed amendments to mining legislation in May.

China Shenhua Energy is avoiding possible resistance by purchasing the land in its Watermark project area, with 12,100 hectares acquired.

The major Chinese coal producer has repeatedly stated it does not seek to mine under the Namoi River and is undertaking a Namoi Water Study to support its environmental assessment.

The company will use a total of 16 water monitoring bores to measure water flow and more than 10 surface water monitors and 10 dust monitors have already been installed inside and outside the project area.

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