The NSW Upper House has passed a motion* calling on the NSW Government to ensure that Aboriginal heritage is not destroyed on the proposed Shenhua coal mine site on the Liverpool Plains.
The motion was moved by Greens MP and environment and water spokesperson Cate Faehrmann and passed without any opposition.
“Support for this motion comes at a critical time as a deadline looms for the NSW Government to grant Shenhua a mining licence as its exploration licence expires on 30 June,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“The world’s eyes are upon us as we decide whether to allow yet more destruction of the spiritual and cultural heritage of our First Nations peoples and some of the world’s most ancient cultural artefacts.
“Shenhua Energy itself has acknowledged that its massive coal mine will destroy significant Aboriginal cultural heritage and sacred sites.
“After the devastating, yet lawful, actions of Rio Tinto a few weeks ago which destroyed 46,000 year old rock shelters in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, it’s clear the sentiment in the NSW Parliament tonight that enough is enough.
“My initial motion was for the NSW Government to reject any application by Shenhua Energy for a mining licence. However, I accepted an amendment by the Labor Party and it was this amended motion which passed the Upper House without opposition.
“This may seem small, but it is a significant win. That’s because Aboriginal artefacts and sacred sites on the proposed mine site are extensive and scattered across the mine footprint.
“Therefore if the Government is to ensure that Aboriginal heritage is not destroyed on the site then it is extremely difficult to see how the Shenhua mine can go ahead,” said Ms Faehrmann.
More information: Cate Faehrmann 0412 207 043
*Text of the Motion:
1. That this House notes that:
- In January this year Shenhua Energy started exploratory drilling for its open-cut coal mine on the Liverpool Plains that will extract 10 million tonnes of coal a year for 30 years;
- the coal mine is expected to destroy roughly 4,000 hectares of fertile agricultural land including 800 hectares of Endangered Ecological Communities including koala habitat;
- a peer reviewed study found that Shenhua overestimated the amount of groundwater in the impact zone by 100 to 1000 times;
- an archaeological report commissioned by China Shenhua Energy has stated that roughly half of the 60 historically and culturally significant artefacts of the Gomeroi people present on the site will be destroyed by the mining project;
- these artefacts include grinding grooves showing markings of spears being sharpened for battle, burial sites and sacred trees;
- the mine is opposed by the Gomeroi people who have filed a submission in the Federal Court against Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley in an attempt to overturn the mine's 2015 approval; and
- When the Government renewed Shenhua’s exploration licence in 2018, it included a cancellation clause that allows it to terminate the project if it hadn’t reached production stage by applying for a mining licence within two years, which is 30 June 2020.
2. That this House notes the destruction of ancient Indigenous caves at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia.
3. That this House calls on the Government to ensure a similar act will not occur at the proposed Shenhua Watermark coal mine.