Greg Hunt approves $1.2bn Shenhua coalmine on Liverpool Plains

The Guardian, Oliver Milman, 8th July 2015

Australian environment minister says strict conditions will prevent Chinese-owned mine from affecting farmland or water supplies but farmers are outraged

A contentious $1.2bn mining project on the New South Wales Liverpool Plains region has been approved by the federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, despite it being opposed by his cabinet colleague Barnaby Joyce as “anathema”.

The Watermark coalmine, operated by Chinese firm Shenhua, has been given the green light by Hunt, allowing for 268m tonnes of coal to be extracted until 2046.

The location of the proposed mine within the highly fertile agricultural region of the Liverpool Plains has provoked fury among some local farmers who claim the project will adversely affect crucial groundwater supplies in the area.

“Farming is dead today in the Liverpool Plains, I really hope Greg Hunt realises he has signed its death warrant,” said Tim Duddy, a cotton, cattle and grain farmer whose property will overlook the mine.