My name is Stewart and I’m a local historian from the community of Bulga in the Hunter Valley. You might have heard about us, and how our village is threatened by the huge and expanding Warkworth coal mine.
My ancestors arrived at Bulga in 1825 and generations of our family have farmed here since. The original 1,500 acre property farmed by my ancestors has long since been subsumed by a massive open-cut coal pit.
I’m writing to tell you about a startling new map that Lock the Gate has produced of the Hunter Valley and Gunnedah Basin, showing for the first time the full scale of the massive land grab that is underway by big coal corporations.
That’s right – big coal corporations are literally flogging our farmland from under our noses. Entire rural villages and vast areas of prime agricultural land are being swallowed up by the mining giants. You can see the full extent of the land grab in this shocking new interactive map. Just click on any parcel of and to see which coal company owns it.
Here are some of the other startling findings from the Lock the Gate research into land ownership by big coal:
- In the Muswellbrook Local Government Area, coal companies have bought 24% of all freehold land and 23% of all mapped Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land, and in the Singleton Local Government Area, they own 15% of all freehold land and 27% of all mapped Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land.
- This startling concentration of mining company land ownership is undoubtedly already causing negative impacts to agricultural industries in these areas. With every new mine and mine expansion that is approved, more properties are identified to be bought by multi-national mining giants.
If the Watermark coal project on the Liverpool Plains goes ahead, Chinese mining giant Shenhua may have to purchase 25 more properties surrounding the area, because of the unliveable impacts the mine will create. If the expansion of the Warkworth mine is approved in the Hunter Valley, multinational mining company Rio Tinto is offering to buy out most of the village of Bulga, where I live, including the shop, service station and pub.
The destruction of flourishing rural villages by multi-national coal mining companies is a terrible legacy of coal mining. We don’t want Bulga to go the way of so much of the Valley, bought up by huge mining companies to leave to rot and ruin.
Warkworth was also once a village, not a super-pit. The mining companies have bought all the houses in Warkworth and Ravensworth villages: the people have gone, the social fabric is gone. Do you agree that this has gone far enough, and that our food production, way of life and community fabric will be fatally compromised if coal companies continue to buy up our productive river valleys?
Share this story with your friends, and get involved with Lock the Gate to help defend our countryside.
PS If you want to stand with communities threatened by unsafe coal and gas mining, and support more important ground-breaking research like this, please sign up as a Gate Keeper today!
Lock the Gate Alliance