THE new faces of Cockatoo Coal’s Hume project said they will have an “open door” policy and haven’t been “hiding” from the community as opponents to the project have claimed.
Project manager Mike Cunnion and newly appointed community liaison officer Julie Gander sat down with the News last week to clear the air on their plans for a possible longwall mine at Sutton Forest.
One of the first things Mr Cunnion ? who managed the Medway mine for eight years ? said was the company hadn’t even established if the coal deposits on the 115 million ton lease were worth mining and what type of mine would be used.
“The first preconception that everyone seems to be raising is that we are going to longwall mine,” he said.
“I don’t know where that came from. There has been no publication by Cockatoo Coal that is going to be the method of mining adopted,” he said.
“An awful lot of work needs to be done before we even contemplate what type of mining is going to take place.”
The Southern Highlands Coal Action Group’s [SHCAG] Peter Martin said he was told by POSCO, the Korean steel giant bank rolling the project, that the most “economically efficient” method of mining would be used. He said this clearly indicated longwall mining because it was more capital intensive.
Ms Gander, who lives outside Goulburn at Towrang, hasn’t worked specifically as a community liaison before and has a tough road ahead with SHCAG’s concerted campaign to turn the community against the miners.
“We’ve heard it, ‘lock the gate you’re not coming in’. We are disappointed by that,” she said.
“We are hoping there are enough people out there willing to talk to us.
“They are the ones we prefer to talk to.”
She said she would meet the SHCAG.
“We’d love them to come and talk to us. Obviously they have fears and concerns and we want to talk to them about it,” she said.
“Every project I have ever worked on has had an element of the community who say ‘we don’t want you, go away’ and we’ve always had to work with them and worked through the issue so they are comfortable with us being there.”
But she ruled out any public meetings, preferring to meet one-on-one with landowners in the exploration lease area.
Mr Cunnion, who lives in Moss Vale, said they are looking at less than 100 bore holes and they had to do more studies because the last exploration was done almost 30 years ago.
He said landowners would be handsomely rewarded for co-operating.
“If possible we will go beyond and above the guidelines,” he said.
If a mine goes ahead Mr Cunnion said local labour would be sourced.
“During any construction phase we would look at 400 people being employed.
“One of the big things Cockatoo has said and I am here to make sure is that we push that argument to look at local employment,” he said.
Ms Gander said they cared just as much about the Highlands’ environment as anyone else.
“We are people. We’re not an amorphous blog of a company. We’re people who also care about our home. This is our home,” she said.
The pair moved into their Moss Vale office at Clarence House last week and said a website was coming.
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Medway mine meet:?Wednesday’s News
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