Opinion piece Protest hitting its mark** by The Daily Examiner journalist Terry Deefholts on 30 April 2012, as NSW North Coast residents and Dirtgirl head to Sydney:
SHORT of a war against an invading enemy, it's difficult to recall an issue that has united such a cross-section of the Australian community as coal-seam gas mining.
As the momentum for tomorrow's rally against CSG mining on productive land gathers steam, some other developments are having an equally large impact on the industry.
Websites opposed to CSG are updated several times a day with articles outlining spills, leaks and general bad behaviour from mining companies, but one article stood out in the past 48 hours.
The news, as reported in The Sun-Herald, that the Chinese Government had pulled the plug on $10 billion in mining-related investments in Australia is loaded with questions.
Quoting mining industry sources, the article stated the Shenhua Group, which spent $600 million developing a coal mine in Gunnedah, will no longer pursue plans to spend a further $9 billion across the country.
Shenhua, it said, told the department of the Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson that it would take its money to mining projects in African Mongolia because of "political interference" and regulatory roadblocks it experienced under the NSW Coalition Government in NSW.
While the loss of such a large investment is hardly a thing to celebrate financially, indeed it will have a terrible impact on north-west NSW if it proves true. The NSW Government can hardly be blamed for putting in place moratoriums to protect water resources and land for its constituents. Food and water security should not be negotiable for anyone and they clearly overrule some company's right to a profit.
The Examiner wishes a safe journey to those who are making the effort to get to Sydney tomorrow to have the community's voice heard on this topic.
A special shout-out to dirtgirl, CVACSG members and The Gas Girls, who will be resplendent in gold.
** It is interesting to note that the reported threat by China Shenhua Energy Company Limited’s Shenhua Group (which owns Shenhua Watermark Coal Pty Limited operating in north-west NSW) is apparently not one it has relayed to any other interested parties and, it is going ahead with its community consultations at Gunnedah in May and expects to begin construction in 2013 according to its website. Any theat probably has more to do with the hard-line bargaining position it takes with state governments and any short-term mining activity economizing this multinational corporation might possibly be considering in NSW may have as more to do with its intention to purchase a $7.9 billion energy asset in China.