While the Victorian government moves to close off wind development on the Bellarine and Surf Coast, they are doing nothing to halt open cut coal mining. What energy source would you prefer in your back yard?
From the Geelong Advertiser, journalist Carmel Christensen.
ENVIRONMENTALISTS have demanded Alcoa and the State Government come clean on any plans to expand the Anglesea coal mine into heritage-listed heathland.
The two parties are currently locked in confidential negotiations that will extend the company’s lease of the power station by an additional 50 years.
Alcoa spokesman Brendan Foran said with talks in progress he could not comment on claims the mine could be extended by as much as 600ha into surrounding parkland.
“Alcoa has submitted a work plan as part of the lease renewal process. This plan is a technical document identifying possible economic coal reserves within the lease area to facilitate decision-making on further, more detailed mine planning,” he said.
“The mining activity to date has impacted on less than 5 per cent of the total lease area. Previously mine areas have been progressively rehabilitated to high standards.”
The power station lease covers 7000ha of the bushland and it supplies about 40 per cent of power requirements for Alcoa’s Point Henry smelter. The two sites employ more than 1000 people.
Under original 1969 lease conditions, Alcoa has an automatic option to mine the site for another 50 years, but according to Mr Foran, has chosen of its own accord to enter into negotiations.
Geelong Environment Council President Joan Lindros said several groups were concerned about the implications of a possible expansion and have demanded information be made public.
“The coal is only here for a short time, the heath should be here for a long time,” Ms Lindros said. “It is very significant, there’s a diversity of flora and fauna that makes it very special and it ranks with very few places in the world.”