THE view from Mark and Debbie Richard’s home “Elbacee” at Glennies Creek could best be described as a coal mining landscape with Integra and Rixs Creek open cut mines operating less than a kilometre from their eastern boundary.
And if that was not enough located on their western boundary is the Ashton underground mine.
Given the fact that every which way they look they are surrounded by coal mines with all their associated dust, noise, blasts and general mine grittiness one would expect the couple to be strong opponents of the mines.
But having lived among the industry most of their lives, they unlike other local residents and the environmental lobby , are keen to see the Ashton South East open cut mine finally given the green light.
Mark worked for Ashton Coal in it’s open cut mine for more than seven years before he was retrenched in January 2012. He then worked at Integra mine for 12 months before once again being re-trenched in December last year.
What has disappointed him most about the whole process involving the future of Ashton’s open-cut mine was the fact people openly celebrated when its approval was rejected in December 2011 and this resulted in the loss of 60 jobs including his own position.
“I don’t think anyone should celebrate people losing their jobs – we need jobs in this country, “ he said.
“We have lived on the farm for 32 years and the mines have not bothered us too much we can run the farm and I think there are too many reports saying how bad it all is with the mines operating in the district.
“I would love to see the Ashton mine go ahead as it will employ 160 people and probably 40 contractors and at the moment we need those jobs.”
The $83 million Ashton South East open cut mine with a projected production of 16.5million tonnes of coal over seven years was rejected by the NSW Planning and Assessment Commission (PAC) in December 2011.
PAC based its ruling on the adverse impacts the mine was likely to have on water and health.
The mine’s owners, the Chinese based company Yancoal, appealed the PAC decision in the NSW Land and Environment Court and in October 2012 the decision was overturned and the mine was given the go-ahead.
In January this year the Hunter Environment Lobby started legal action in the Land Environment Court to reverse the approval of the mine.
This appeal will be heard in that court on August 31.
Supporting the views expressed by his son Mark was his father Bruce Richards, who worked at Howick and Wambo mines for 40 years along with working on his Glennies Creek farm where Mark and Debbie now live.
“The pendulum has swung too far against the mines – too much anti mining reporting and much of that is only half truths,” he said.
“Thirty years ago mines did things they would never do today the industry has come a long way and they are much more accountable for their operations and that is a good thing.
“Today some mines are doing things better than others and there is always areas they can improve but I think we can work together and they are important for the local economy.”
YES TO ASHTON: Glennies Creek residents Debbie and Mark Richards at their home “Elbacee” are hoping the Ashton South East open cut coal mine is given the go ahead.
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