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MYTHS AND FACTS

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COEXISTENCE, EQUINE HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT

 
 

The coal mining and horse breeding industries cannot coexist in close proximity; Drayton South will destroy the thoroughbred industry and the employees and communities that rely on it

Anglo American is committed to coexistence and ongoing consultation with our neighbours. Our revised Drayton South project will protect local jobs while ensuring other industries, such as horse breeding, can continue to flourish. The industries have been working side by side for many years and there is no need for a choice between the future of the local equine industry and the jobs of our 500 employees.

The revised Drayton South plan has significantly reduced the size of the mine and extensive studies have demonstrated that it will not affect the viability of the horse studs. Over eight years of consultation with our neighbours, Anglo American has agreed to forgo 99 million tonnes of coal to move the mine behind the Planning Assessment Commission’s (PAC) nominated ridgeline to address stakeholder concerns and negate all the visual impacts. The mine will not be seen or heard by the horse studs.

 
 

A 10km buffer is the only way to protect the horse breeding industry in the Hunter Valley

Calls for a 10km buffer around existing horse breeding operations would place the economic future of the Hunter Valley at risk. It would potentially see the axe fall on 22 mining applications already in the planning system and threaten the renewal of 23 existing titles, many of which are simply to extend the life of current operations.

Our revised mine plan has moved the mine entirely behind the PAC nominated ridgeline, increasing the buffer between our operating areas and the horse studs operating areas to 2kms. The mine will not be visible from the operating areas of the neighbouring horse studs and noise will remain within the current background levels, with no discernible change in air quality.

 
 

Drayton South will have a detrimental impact on equine health at the neighbouring horse studs

Over $60 million has been spent on technical reports and equine health studies that have confirmed the revised project will have no negative impact on horse health1. Extensive studies have also found that air quality would be maintained, a view shared by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DP&E).

1 Drayton South Coal Project Equine Health Impact Assessment – Assoc Professor Nicholas Kannegieter, March 2015
 
 

Drayton South will be just 500 metres from the neighbouring horse studs

Since the last application, the buffer between our open cut mining operations and the horse studs operational areas has been increased to 2km. The closest the mine will ever come to the studs’ boundary fence on the Golden Highway is 1km.

 
 

Noise and vibrations from the mine will negatively impact the horses

Detailed studies have shown that mining noise will be within existing background noise levels, currently generated by traffic on the Golden Highway, which runs between the horse studs and the proposed mine plan, and farming activity noise from the stud properties. Modelling demonstrates that through the implementation of noise management and mitigation measures, noise levels will not exceed the regulatory amenity noise criteria at any receivers in the vicinity of the Drayton South area.

It is likely there will only be one blast a day. The increased buffer distance between the mine and the horse studs’ operating areas, and the use of state of the art blasting technology, will ensure potential blast impacts are effectively managed and significantly reduced. The blast, if heard, will be like the sound of distant rolling thunder and last less than 10 seconds.

 
 

Management of air quality impacts and dust control have not been adequately addressed. Dust impacts could force the horse studs to consider moving, destroying the regions breeding industry

The revised plan presents no reasonable reason for either horse stud to consider leaving the region. An extensive environmental study confirmed the revised project will have no negative environmental or horse health impacts from dust or air quality, and will allow us to continue to coexist with local industries and apply world class environmental management practices around rehabilitation, noise, dust, visual amenity, and equine health. Air quality will remain as it is currently and comparable to other premium horse breeding areas in Kentucky, USA, and Newmarket in the UK.

Control of dust emissions was a key consideration in the design of the project. Modelling has shown there are no private properties that are predicted to experience dust concentrations above the Environmental Protection Authority’s air quality assessment criteria or the Department of Planning and Environment mitigation criteria. The project will use the latest technology to reduce dust including road surface treatments and progressive rehabilitation to minimise exposed areas.

 
 

The mine will impact on the water quality and quantity of both groundwater and surface water resources

There will be no water discharge from the project. Surface water modelling predicts there is a less than 10% chance water will need to be sourced from offsite. Groundwater quality within the Saddlers Creek and Hunter River alluvium is not expected to measurably change as a result of the project. There are only two registered groundwater bores located within the zone of influence and both of these are located on land owned by Anglo American.

 
 

COMMUNITY AND THE PUBLIC INTEREST

 
 

The project is not in the public interest

The project is in the public interest, delivering benefits to the local community, $30 million in State Government royalties, $140 million in wages and local procurement and will save 500 jobs. The local communities of Muswellbrook and Singleton have both been significantly impacted by the downturn in the coal mining industry, largely as a result of workforce downsizing. Economic assessments have found the project has significant social and economic benefits through continued employment and local procurement.

In 2014, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment recommended that the project was in the public interest and should be approved, citing the substantial economic benefits for the regional and state economy, and that the biodiversity, heritage, land, water, economic and social impacts were unlikely to be significant and would be suitably mitigated and/or offset.

 
 

The plan has failed to address and account for the cumulative health impacts of this proposal on the Hunter Valley community.

Anglo American has spent more than $60 million on technical reports, modelling, studies and engineering to ensure the Drayton South mine does not negatively impact the local community. From all the scientific studies undertaken, local communities including Jerrys Plains, Muswellbrook and Singleton will not experience any impacts from Drayton South. Drayton South is further away from Muswellbrook and is a replacement for the existing Drayton mine. There will be no visual, noise, dust, water or any health impacts to any of these communities.

 
 

The mine will ruin the landscape, impacting on local tourism and the overall appearance of the iconic Hunter Valley.

The project will not be visible from any of the horse studs operational areas. The mine will be hidden behind two separate ridgelines and will be more than 2kms from the horse studs’ operational areas, with the project beginning from 5kms away.

 
 

The mine will result in a net-economic loss of $457m to the NSW economy and strip $120 million annually from the local economy.

This is an extreme view based on the total collapse of the horse breeding industry in the Upper Hunter. Horse breeding and mining have co-existed and prospered in the region for over 100 years. There is absolutely no rationale why this will not continue well into the future. A detailed economic study completed for the EIS and peer reviewed by an independent expert confirms that the project will have total net production benefits of $464 million3.

The project is estimated to make up to the following direct and indirect average annual contributions to the New South Wales economy for 15 years:

- $906 M in annual direct and indirect regional output or business turnover;

- $393 M in annual direct and indirect regional value added.

- $188 M in annual direct and indirect household income.

- $233 M in NSW Royalties.

- $25 M in NSW Payroll tax.

- 2,085 direct and indirect jobs. 

The project will result in the following annual contributions to the Upper Hunter economy for approximately 15 years:

- $559 M in annual direct and indirect regional output or business turnover.

- $220 M in annual direct and indirect regional value added.

- $71 M in annual direct and indirect household income.

- 984 direct and indirect jobs. 


 
 

Intended blasting events do not comply with ANZEC guidelines.

The project is likely to require an average of up to five blast events per week during daylight hours. Blasting associated with the project (with a maximum instantaneous charge of up to 2000 kg) is predicted to produce ground vibration and overpressure levels well below the relevant amenity criteria at all privately owned residences and heritage structures.

 
 
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