Cliffs crumbled due to coalmining, says new report

Ben Cubby, 27/4/10

Dozens of cliffs have crumbled or collapsed, Aboriginal rock art has been destroyed and metre-wide cracks opened in the earth as a result of coalmining in the Gardens of Stone wilderness area near Lithgow, an independent report has found. The damage, inflicted over three decades by five coal mines and continuing today, is caused by subsidence from longwall mining, which now almost surrounds the Gardens of Stone National Park, part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Site. It is likely to be extended further if a new mine plan is approved by the NSW government. The report, to be launched today by the former premier Bob Carr, documents wide-scale, unpublicised damage, including the destruction of some of the area’s unique sandstone pagodas and rock arches. ”In its monitoring reports to government, the coal industry regularly understates the damage caused,” said Keith Muir, the executive officer of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, which produced the report. ”Mine operations do not work to minimise environmental damage and have been largely unresponsive to environmental concerns.”