The tiny NSW town of Bulga has won a three-year battle against mining giant Rio Tinto when a court overturned a state government-endorsed decision to allow it to dig an open-cut coalmine next to the town.
A Rio Tinto subsidiary, Coal & Allied, had been granted approval to mine bushland next to the town which had been created as an ”offset” a decade ago. It was to have created 150 mining jobs and extracted 18 million tonnes of coal a year, in the community of 300 people.
In a scathing judgment, Justice Brian Preston, chief judge of the Land and Environment Court, criticised the government’s approval of the proposed Warkworth mine in the Hunter Valley, which he said could damage Bulga’s ”sense of place”.
Planning Minister Brad Hazzard said he was seeking legal advice on what action might be available to the government. Rio Tinto said the community’s ability to challenge the government’s decision was ”significantly obstructing investment and job creation in NSW”.
The challenge was brought by the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association, representing the views of most of the town’s residents, with help from the Environmental Defender’s Office of NSW.