An underground coal mine that threatens two of the Hunter Valley’s leading horse studs will disturb sacred land, Aboriginal elders have said.
An underground coal mine that threatens two of the Hunter Valley’s leading horse studs will disturb sacred land, Aboriginal elders have said.

Coal mine threatens sacred land, say Aboriginal elders

An underground coal mine that threatens two of the Hunter Valley's leading horse studs will disturb sacred land.

Aboriginal elders say the Maxwell Underground Coal Mine will be dug on the site of an ancient massacre and that subsidence will disturb ancient burial sites.

The mine is the latest in a string of proposals to dig near the Coolmore and Godolphin studs which together generate millions of dollars for the state economy and attract international visitors to the state.

Coolmore principal Tom Magnier with horses Invincibella and Sunlight. Picture: Toby Zerna
Coolmore principal Tom Magnier with horses Invincibella and Sunlight. Picture: Toby Zerna

"The area Malabar Coal seeks to dig the Maxwell mine is an extremely important place and location for our people," representative of the Wonnarua people Scott Franks said.

He said his people were herded across the mine site into a pocket in a running skirmish with colonial forces and massacred.

"As soon as it becomes a mine site the area will be fenced off and landlocked and we will not be able to access it to conduct ceremonies or gather resources," he said. "I think it is appalling."

His view was backed by a submission to the Independent Planning Commission, which is expected to deliver its decision as early as next week, from Aboriginal heritage expert Tim Owen.

"A total of 238 Aboriginal sites are located with the proposed underground mine area," he said. "The majority of Aboriginal archaeology is located below the ground, buried in the subsurface context."

The warning comes as a Parliamentary inquiry into Rio Tinto's destruction of 46,000-year-old rock shelters has called for a moratorium on new mines until heritage laws had been passed in Western Australia.

The NSW Government released an assessment report into the Maxwell Underground Mine Project in Jerrys Plains last month, approving an underground mine to be constructed across the road from thoroughbred studs Coolmore and Godolphin. The infrastructure from the old Drayton Coal mine will be re-used in the proposed Maxwell Underground mine. Picture: Toby Zerna
The NSW Government released an assessment report into the Maxwell Underground Mine Project in Jerrys Plains last month, approving an underground mine to be constructed across the road from thoroughbred studs Coolmore and Godolphin. The infrastructure from the old Drayton Coal mine will be re-used in the proposed Maxwell Underground mine. Picture: Toby Zerna


Coolmore principal Tom Magnier has already expressed fears for underground water systems the stud relies on to water the lush paddocks that are home to legendary horses including American Triple Crown winners Justify and American Pharoah.

It is the fifth time the stud has fought to stop a mine being built across the road - this time with proposed underground shafts stopping just 150 metres from the boundary fence. "It is a life or death battle for us," he said.

Malabar Resources chairman Wayne Seabrook said: "Malabar Resources conducted a comprehensive Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment Report for the Maxwell Project that complied with all relevant NSW Government Guidelines and was prepared with broad Aboriginal community input."

Mr Seabrook said that the massacre site was not on the proposed mine site. "While no sites of high significance have been identified that would be impacted by the Maxwell Project, the proposed underground mining method significantly reduces impacts on Aboriginal heritage compared to open cut mining methods," he said.

The mine is expected to create 250 jobs during construction and 350 more through the 26 years of its life, pumping $55 million in wages into the local economy.

Originally published as Coal mine threatens sacred land, say Aboriginal elders


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