Outrage as banned gas technology approved in SA for first time
A highly polluting mining technology – recently banned in Queensland – has controversially been given the go ahead for trial in SA, despite clear opposition from Traditional Owners and major health and environmental fears.
Leigh Creek Energy has today announced they have received their final approval from Energy & Mining Minister Dan Van Host Pellekaan to commence a live trial of Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) at the old Leigh Creek mine site in the state’s north.
UCG (or in situ gasification) involves setting fire to underground coal to extract gas. In April 2016, the Queensland Government legally banned UCG after the worst contamination event in that state’s history at the Hopeland Linc Energy plant (Chinchilla).
“We are outraged that this dangerous technology has been given the go ahead in South Australia,” said Craig Wilkins, Chief Executive of Conservation SA, the state’s peak environment body.
“UCG has been banned interstate and right around the world because of the damage it causes.
“We simply do not believe the assurances from the company that they have finally worked out how to do it safely. The same claims were made by Linc Energy at Chinchilla in Queensland just before they caused such widespread devastation there. Why should we take the risk here?
“One of the known UCG by-products is benzene, a major cause of cancer and birth defects. The town of Copley is only a few kilometres downwind from the trial site. No wonder local residents are up in arms.
“There is fierce opposition from Traditional Owners and the local community. They will be devastated by today’s decision,” he said.
Earlier this year, Linc Energy was found guilty of causing serious environmental harm in the District Court. Further criminal prosecutions of Linc executives are planned. Leigh Creek Energy, formerly Marathon Resources, has a dubious mining history with former Premier Mike Rann dubbing the company “cowboys” and banning their uranium mining operations in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. The Chairman of Leigh Creek Energy, Justyn Peters, was a senior employee at Linc Energy.