AMSJ » Authority ‘satisfied’ with coal landslide response

Authority ‘satisfied’ with coal landslide response

Russell Vale coal landslide
Russell Vale coal landslide (courtesy Protect Our Water Alliance Facebook page)

A struggling mining company is unlikely to be penalised after large volumes of product became scattered across a nearby town.

Authorities recently revealed they would not fine Wollongong Resources after Russell Vale became blanketed in coal on 6 April 2024.

The Environment Protection Authority confirmed it was “satisfied” with flood clean up efforts, and found “no obvious impacts” after officers inspected the soon-to-be closed Russell Vale coal mine, Hacking River and nearby creek.

“It appears to be historical coal washed downstream by the intense weather event,” a spokesperson said according to Fairfax Media.

The remarks came in response to multiple resident complaints that loose coal had covered buildings, yards, streets, gutters and drains.

“There was coal all over the road … it was blocking all of the gutters and the drains, and it was all over our front grass, all through our backyard and in our pool – it was just everywhere,” firefighter Kristy Lakeman said according to the media outlet.

Lakeman and her neighbours spent two days cleaning up with shovels and their hands.

The proponent rejected Lakeman’s claims that management “does not really care”, stressing crew members spoke with every resident who was at home. A spokesperson revealed the recent production pause meant the mine only had a skeleton team without enough manpower to support clean up efforts until April 8.

No coal is stored at the century-old mine site and loose coal further up the slope is widely speculated to be the source.

The New South Wales Resources Regulator earlier issued a prohibition notice to the same operation more than eight months after underground employees accidentally exposed a borehole on 27 May 2023. Methane gas became released and ignited when rocky material came in contact with picks on the continuous miner’s cutting drum.

“A large flame spread from the left side across the width of the heading, over the continuous miner and towards the workers,” the investigation information release said.

“After the initial burst of flame a fire along the roof continued to burn. The continuous miner operator cut power to the continuous miner. He released the continuous miner’s water supply hose and applied water from it onto the flame. The flame was extinguished after about 30 seconds.”

Click here to read the full investigation information release.

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