WOLLONGONG COAL RUSSELL VALE MINE
The Russell Vale Colliery is an underground coal mine in the Catchment Area west of Russell Vale. The mine has been in operation since the 1880s - using various methods to mine different coal seams.
Russell Vale colliery is operated by Wollongong Coal Limited.
Wollongong Coal is financially dependent on Jindal Steel. As of 31 March 2019, Wollongong Coal has received over $300 million in cash advance from JSPML and a further ~$25 Million from JSPML's subsidiary Jindal Steel and Power (Australia) Pty Ltd (JSPAL).
Wollongong Coal has been in the headlines this year 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".
RUSSELL VALE MINE EXPANSION PROPOSAL
Unlike Dendrobium, the Russell Vale proposal does not seek to mine further into the catchment using the longwall technique. Rather, Wollongong Coal proposes to use "first workings" bord-and-pillar method to mine in closer proximity to our water reservoirs.
The bord-and-pillar method is less than destructive than the longwall technique. "Bord-and-pillar" or "room-and-pillar" involves removing areas of the coal seam in a grid-like fashion, leaving pillars standing as support structures.
According to Wollongong Coal's environmental consultants, using "first workings" bord-and-pillar techniques will result in "negligible" subsidence and the risk of the proposed mining destablising historical mine workings is "low".
POWA maintains that it is not acceptable to have ANY risk of damage to the water catchment, be it ANY level of subsidence or ANY risk of destabilising historical mine workings.