RUSSELL VALE COLLIERY

WOLLONGONG COAL, RUSSELL VALE

UPDATE 18 MARCH 2021: MAKE SURE SUSSAN LEY AND ROB STOKES SAYS “NO” TO WOLLONGONG COAL’S ‘DO-NOTHING’ CLIMATE PLAN

 

1. NSW PLANNING MINISTER ROB STOKES

Telephone the Minister on (02) 8574 6707 or write to him via his contact web form at:  https://www.nsw.gov.au/nsw-government/ministers/minister-for-planning-and-public-spaces

Wollongong Coal Ltd is preparing a plan for management of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) from Russell Vale Colliery. GHGEs will be produced as a result of diesel fuel use and electricity consumption on site. And as this is a ‘gassy’ mine, a lot of methane and carbon dioxide will be released. And then of course there’s the carbon pollution that occurs when the coal is transported and burnt.

Although it has a relatively small coal output, Russell Vale Mine is among the top 100 Scope 1 greenhouse gas emitters in Australia. 

But the draft GHG management plan reveals WCL does not want to commit to any action to reduce any of these emissions.
 


The carefully worded draft plan says WCL will “consider” efficiency if they purchase new equipment, “review renewable energy opportunities”, “track… electricity bills” and similar actions, the outcomes of which are neither measurable nor enforceable.

There are no plans at all to minimise, avoid or mitigate any of the fugitive emissions from this expansion. Fugitive emissions comprise 99.6% of all Scope 1 emissions for this development. The 1,412,900 tonnes of fugitive GHG emissions are equivalent to the annual GHG footprint of more than 67,000 Australians.

At this time, we need to rapidly reduce GHG emissions. The NSW government must not let expanding coal mines off the hook.

Will you write to the NSW Minister for Planning, Rob Stokes and ask him to ensure that WCL will be required to implement real concrete, transparent and measurable GHG mitigation at Russell Vale mine?

“Any single source of greenhouse gas emissions is a small fraction of the total, yet the cumulative, shared problem of climate change is enormous and quite possibly existential.”(1)

 

The NSW government doesn’t require coal miners to take responsibility for the Scope 3 emissions released in the burning of the coal they’ve mined (86.3% of GHG emissions from this mine).  At the very least, Minister Stokes should require concrete, measurable reductions of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions from the Russell Vale Mine expansion. And the Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions which cannot be reduced should be 100% offset by Wollongong Coal. 

Please phone or write  to the NSW Minister for Planning now and ask him to reject Wollongong Coal’s ‘do-nothing’ draft GHG plan and instead, to ensure real, measurable and enforceable reductions from the Russell Vale Mine expansion.

Your message can be as long or short as you like and should:

(1) refer to Draft Russell Vale Colliery Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Management Plan;

(2) demand actions that are concrete, transparent and measurable to reduce the project’s GHG emissions, including fugitive emissions;

(3) demand that emissions be offset if technology is not available for mitigation emissions; and

(4) request a response to your communication.

Telephone the Minister on (02) 8574 6707 or write to him via his contact web form at:  https://www.nsw.gov.au/nsw-government/ministers/minister-for-planning-and-public-spaces

2. FEDERAL ENVIRONMENT MINISTER SUSSAN LEY

Telephone Minister Ley's office on (02) 6277 7920

Make sure Sussan Ley rejects Wollongong Coal's approval under federal environment legislation. 
Wollongong Coal still need federal approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) Act, which includes assessment of their track record. The Russell Vale coal mine has over 30 penalties, warnings, orders and investigations related to Wollongong Coal’s failure to comply with mining conditions, standards and requirements.

Contact Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley - and ask her to say 'no' based on dodgy track record of Wollongong Coal.

Call Sussan Ley's office (02) 6277 7920

Find more information on the Lock The Gate website

(1)  Expert Report on the Greenhouse Gas and Climate Implications of the Narrabri Gas Project (SSD-6456), Professor Penny D Sackett, Honorary Professor, Climate Change Institute, The Australian National University, Advice Provided to IPC NSW re Narrabri Gas Project: 9 August 2020, pg 3

UPDATE DECEMBER 2020: RUSSELL VALE COLLIERY EXPANSION APPROVED BY INDEPENDENT PLANNING COMMISSION, HOWEVER AWAITS FEDERAL APPROVAL. WOLLONGONG COAL CLAIMS TO HAVE FIRST COAL TRUCKED TO PORT KEMBLA FOR EXPORT IN MAY 2021. 

 

The Russell Vale Colliery is an underground coal mine west of Russell Vale. The mine has been in operation since the 1880s - using various methods to mine different coal seams. It mines beneath the Special Areas of the Greater Sydney Water Catchment.

Russell Vale Colliery is operated by Wollongong Coal Ltd (WCL), which has been listed on the Australian stock exchange, although it applied to be removed from official listing on the ASX in July 2020.  The majority shareholder in WCL is Jindal Steel and Power Mauritius Ltd, which is in turn 100% owned by Indian company Jindal Steel and Power.

Wollongong Coal has been in the headlines regarding an investigation by the Resources Regulator into whether or not it is "fit and proper" to carry a mining license. The company was also forced to close its Wongawilli Coal mine in 2019 due to safety concerns after a "series of roof collapses".


The Russell Vale Underground Expansion Project would mine predominantly metallurgical (coking) coal for steel making, with some thermal coal as a by-product.  All the coal is exported.

 

Wollongong Coal propose to mine a third seam of coal (Wongawilli seam) beneath two previously mined seams.

This plans to yield 3.7 million tonnes of coal over 5 years, with maximum extraction each year of 1 million tonnes.
 

A processing plant would be built on site to process coal.  Coal would then be trucked from Russell Vale along the Northern Distributor to Port Kembla Coal Terminal.  There would be up to 32 truck movements per hour, or one coal truck every 112 seconds on the Northern Distributor.

WCL has explicitly stated that the purpose of this proposal is to pave the way for a much larger expansion of mining around Cataract Reservoir and to its west. 

WCL’s consultants stated in 2019 “LOM [Life of Mine] of at least 5 years to provide sufficient time for necessary studies and approval process for mining in Wonga Central and Wonga/Bulli West areas.”*

This planned expansion could be much more destructive & must be stopped.

*RUSSELL VALE UEP, Revised Mine Plan: Presentation to CCC 06 June 2017, p. 7

Existing and Proposed Underground Workings at Russell Vale, Figure 5.2, page 60
RUSSELL VALE REVISED UNDERGROUND EXPANSION PROJECT 
REVISED PREFERRED PROJECT REPORT AND RESPONSE TO SECOND PAC REVIEW FINAL 

Prepared by Umwelt (Australia) Pty Limited on behalf of Wollongong Coal Limited. Accessed at:  https://majorprojects.accelo.com/public/94940b4c06478b0d010a6a30d1c28522/PPR%20and%20PAC%20Second%20Review%20Response%20Reduced%20file%20size.pd

RUSSELL VALE COLLIERY EXPANSION PROPOSAL

Wollongong Coal propose to mine a third seam of coal (Wongawilli seam) beneath two previously mined seams. Multi seam mining has scant precedent and the outcomes are difficult to predict.

Instability in the overlaying old Bulli seam workings may cause pillar collapse and subsequent surface subsidence of 1 to 2 metres.

The land around the proposed mining is unstable. The proposal states, “It is noted that large areas of the surface within the UEP Application Area are currently on the verge of moving as a result of previous mining.” It is described as being in “limiting equilibrium” – still moving, having not stabilised since WCL mined longwalls 4, 5 and 6 several years ago. 

Source: Russell Vale Revised Underground Expansion Project 3687_R05 RtPAC Second Review FINAL Revised Preferred Project Environmental Assessment, p. 63
Accessed 18.8.19 at: https://majorprojects.accelo.com/public/7f32dda24beaa9a6c18ea7d52be9c53d/RtPAC%20Second%20Review%20FINAL.pdf