The $1.3 billion Cobbora coal mine near Dunedoo should be ditched and the focus put on renewables says Greens Senate candidate Lee Rhiannon.
The one-time NSW upper house MLC acknowledged it may not be a popular message in Dubbo which could stand to gain economically if the mine went ahead.
“The Greens position is there should be no new coal mines. In the era of climate change it is irresponsible for governments to open up new coal mines and why we say this is because the mining and burning of coal in Australia contributes 40 per cent to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.
“To be serious about climate change you need look at the plan for the coal industry and the Greens’ position is we shouldn’t be opening up new coal mines - we are not saying we should shut down existing ones, but shouldn’t open up new ones.”
In May Dubbo mayor Allan Smith said residents of Dubbo could make up about half of the workforce of the mooted mine that “has to have the potential to be another Fletcher’s”.
If approved construction could begin later this year with a workforce of 625 required to get the job done.
Expected to be operational in 2013, the mine’s workforce would build to 1700 to keep up coal supply to seven NSW power stations.
Ms Rhiannon said she “strongly disputed” it would provide that many jobs.
“The NSW Government ... and also the NSW Minerals council regularly inflate the figures - around mining jobs they often contradict themselves. Mining these days is highly automated,” she said.
“The Greens strongly agree the need for job growth in regional areas.
“We would have much greater jobs growth that would last well into the future ... if the Government would back renewable and energy efficiencies.”
She said more than 73,000 jobs could be created in regional NSW by going green.
Some in the Dunedoo and Mudgee region are concerned that not only coal but also valuable water will be sucked up by the mine.
The Mudgee Guardian reported the Cobbora coal mine consortium had acquired two high-security licences totalling nearly 2.5 billion litres of water from Warren downstream from the Burrendong Dam, subject to the approval from the NSW Office of Water.
Incumbent Parkes MP Mark Coulton said the Government needed to look at “the relationship between and agricultural and coal mines”.
“But basically if we don’t want to be shivering in the dark we are gong to need coal mines,” he said.
“There are alternatives being rolled out but basically they all come at a cost.
“If people want to have their electricity generated by solar and wind they are gong to be prepared to have to pay double or more.”
Mr Coulton said the community “could not turn up its nose” to the mine.
“I am understanding it is in excess of 1000 (jobs). Basically I think we can’t ignore ... that sort of investment,” he said.
He also said it was the Greens who were prone to inflating job numbers connected to renewables.
Labor candidate for Parkes Andrew Brooks did not return calls to the Daily Liberal.