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Saturday 25 October 2014

Winemakers’ fears over planned coal mine

21st August, 2014 by Simon Howland

Proposals for a new coal mine in Australia’s Hunter Valley are raising fears that history could repeat itself, after a similar plan devastated the wine industry in the 1990s.

Australia's Hunter Valley wine region has felt the impact of mining in the past

Australia’s Hunter Valley wine region has felt the impact of mining in the past

A proposed mining project in Hunter Valley has united local industries in fear of the impact it will have on the wine trade, with the New South Wales Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) warning it could have major consequences in the same way the Bengalla mine devastated the wine industry in the 1990s, as reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

In 1996, following extended legal disputes, the NSW government overruled local councils to approve plans for a new mine at Bengalla, despite the Oatley family, who owned Rosemount Wines, arguing that key vineyards would be ruined by dust.

Residents also complained the mine would be too close to residential areas.

Its arrival prompted Rosemount to close down its Hunter Valley operations.

Brett Keeping, of Hunter Valley’s Two Rivers Winery, told the PAC he fears approval of a new mine at Drayton South risks devastating the region’s wine industry one more with the departure of wine giant Rosemount still felt to this day.

There are also fears that the sums involved are simply not worth the risk with the PAC revealing that royalties from the proposed mine could be as little as $15 million (£8.39m) a year.

The PAC is currently taking final submissions on the mine.

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