The Shenhua Watermark Mine was a proposed massive thermal and coking coal mine approved for the Liverpool Plains, near Breeza in north-western New South Wales.
It was officially cancelled in April 2021 when the NSW Government announced it would pay the mine’s Chinese owner to withdraw its mining lease application and surrender its development consent.
When it was announced, the controversial project attracted fierce opposition, including from local farmers who wanted to protect the region’s fertile black soil – one of the best food-growing areas in Australia. ED worked closely with local people to challenge the mine and protect wildlife and heritage from destruction at the hands of its proposed three open cut pits.
Gomeroi Traditional Custodians
EDOs client is Veronica “Dolly” Talbott, a member of the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians. The site of Shenhua’s proposed mega-mine is located on the Gomeroi’s ancestral lands. The area includes irreplaceable Aboriginal cultural heritage such as large grinding groove sites, scarred trees and interlinked ceremonial corridors and sacred sites. The Shenhua Watermark’s pits would destroy these places forever.
Dolly Talbott is suing the Environment Minister in the Federal Court, alleging she made an error of law in deciding not to make a declaration to protect the Aboriginal heritage.
Defending Koala Habitat
Koalas are an iconic Australian animal. They are also a threatened species, with loss of habitat a key factor in their decline.1 The Shenhua Watermark mine would destroy 847 hectares of koala habitat on the Liverpool Plains.
EDO acted for Upper Mooki Landcare in a case against the NSW Planning Assessment Committee, arguing that it had failed to properly consider whether the mine was likely to significantly affect koalas as required by law. In February 2016, the court dismissed our client’s case, finding that the approval of the mine is valid.
Call For Transparency
EDO client Lock the Gate made a FOI request for documents, arguing the public has a right to know about how public money was spent in relation to the Shenhua Watermark mine. It came after the NSW Government struck a deal with the Chinese state-owned Shenhua to buy back around 50% of its mining licence at a cost of $262 million to taxpayers. The Government refused to release the documents to Lock the Gate and and EDO challenged the decision in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal on their behalf
In January 2019, the tribunal upheld the decision to withhold the documents. The Tribunal agreed that there was significant public interest in the buyback deal and that the release of the documents would enhance transparency and accountability. However it found the Goverment’s decision was valid under the law.