Record Fine for Illegal Water Take Proof Mining has No Place in Sydney Water Catchment
The announcement today by the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) that it has entered into an enforceable undertaking with Illawarra Coal Holdings of almost $3 million compensation for illegally taking surface water without a licence is yet another reason why mining has no place in Sydney’s drinking water catchment, Greens MP and mining and water spokesperson Cate Faehrmann said.
Illawarra Coal was found to have taken surface water without a water licence over five years from 2018 to 2023 for use at its underground coal mine at Kembla Heights, west of Wollongong.
Under the terms of the enforceable undertaking, the largest ever secured by NRAR, Illawarra Coal is required to provide a monetary contribution of $2,878,138 for a community project that will improve the health of waterways or restore wetlands and must be submitted to NRAR by 30 September 2023.
“The scale of this undertaking speaks to the impact that this mining is having on water resources in Sydney’s drinking catchment,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“The public has a right to know just how much water is being taken by mining operations in Sydney’s water catchment, yet it’s just been revealed that Illawarra Coal has been taking an unknown quantity of surface water for at least five years.
“Investigations like these just go to show how vigilant we have to be in ensuring mining companies are acting in accordance with the law and responsibilities under their approvals.
“Illawarra Coal’s application for a surface water licence must be rejected, especially considering that we’re entering into a period of El Niño and likely associated drought conditions.
“This announcement indicates that mining companies are taking even more water than anyone realised from Sydney’s water catchment. Now more than ever we need a plan to phase out coal mining in Sydney’s drinking water catchment,” said Ms Faehrmann.