With Lockhart landholders harbouring ongoing concerns about the presence of iron ore mining companies in the region, they are now being warned about an incursion from coal seam gas (CSG) mining companies.
Speaking at a forum in Lockhart on the weekend, representatives from outspoken national anti-CSG lobby group, ‘Lock the Gate Alliance’ said it is a case “when, not if” mining companies start to explore the region for CSG deposits.
‘Lock the Gate Alliance’ national co-ordinator Phil Laird said the ability of mining companies to drill deep into the ground meant farmer’s apathy over a lack of ground-level water in the Lockhart region seemingly protecting them from concerns over CSG mining practices were unfounded.
While there haven’t been any CSG mining exploration licences applied for or granted in the Lockhart region, Mr Laird said it was only a matter of time.
“It’s a low risk enterprise for the mining companies; they will come here looking for the coal seam gas sooner or later,” he said.
State government laws require landholders to negotiate a land access agreement with mining companies, a process outlined to Lockhart residents last year at a NSW Farmers meeting.
But Mr Laird said if farmers do have reservations about the process it was important to stand up as a community and actively make their feelings known.
“We’re encouraging communities to organise themselves, it seems Lockhart already has a group (The Lockhart Mining Taskforce) so it’s well prepared,” he said.
Mr Laird said that while the Alliance isn’t opposed to CSG mining, it believes the science is not clear about the potential environmental impacts.
“There needs to be independent peer-reviewed science showing the processes they are using are safe for the environment,” he said.
“If that science does show it could proceed without damaging the environment, then communities need to accept it.”
Mr Laird said an independent body is currently being set up to review the methods used to explore and extract coal seam gas.
The meeting came on the same day that an aquifer in the state’s north-west was contaminated to the point where the water’s uranium levels reached 20 times the safe level.
The contamination is the first evidence of a coal seam gas operation harming the environment.
Mr Laird said the ‘Lock the Gate Alliance’ would return to Lockhart in the next two to three months for further meetings with landholders.