Tahmoor coal miners demand an apology from Wollondilly MP

Fight to work: Tahmoor miners will hang 400 shirts on the fence of the mine to represent the jobs that may be lost if the mine extension is rejected. Picture: Supplied
Fight to work: Tahmoor miners will hang 400 shirts on the fence of the mine to represent the jobs that may be lost if the mine extension is rejected. Picture: Supplied

Coal miners at the Tahmoor coal mine are demanding an apology and retraction from Wollondilly MP Nathaniel Smith after he slammed the NSW Department of Planning's approval of the Tahmoor mine expansion.

The department's report recommending the approval of the SIMEC Tahmoor Coking Coal plan to expand its operations was released late last year.

The mine's owner is currently seeking approval to keep the mine open however Mr Smith has publicly opposed the proposed extension.

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) says more than 400 workers will lose their jobs in 18 months when existing coal reserves at the Tahmoor coal mine are exhausted.

The union released a statement yesterday stating that the mine extension was strongly opposed by property developers who want to profit from a residential subdivision in Bargo.

CFMMEU south western district vice-president Bob Timbs said Mr Smith's comments ruined Christmas for 400 local families.

"It's deeply concerning to see the local member attempting to whip up hysteria that only aids property developers and hurts local employment," he said.

"The Tahmoor South mine extension will secure the 400 direct jobs for another decade, and support hundreds of other jobs in the community.

"Tahmoor miners live in Tahmoor and Bargo and their kids go to local schools; the mine is the lifeblood of the local community."

Mr Timbs said the extension would also create more than 170 new jobs during the construction phase.

"With COVID-19 playing havoc with the state's economy Nathaniel Smith should be getting behind this project to kickstart the recovery," he said.

"Tahmoor Coal has bent over backwards to do the right thing. They have reduced the longwall footprint at significant expense and mitigated the impact on native vegetation and water resources."

Mr Timbs said there was strong community support in the Bargo and Wollondilly shires for this project 'as it will inject $137 million into the local shire and almost $5 million in council rates'.

"Mining has successfully coexisted with south coast communities for well over a century and this extension ensures it will continue into the future," he said.

"The CFMMEU will be calling on each of our miners at Tahmoor to hang a high-vis shirt on the mine's fence to represent the jobs which will be lost if Nathaniel Smith and local property developers get their way and the mine closed."

Mr Smith said the government's report was clear.

"What is clear to me, and confirmed in the Government report, is that at least 143 family homes will be affected by this mine expansion beneath the northern and north-eastern outskirts of Bargo," he said.

"More worryingly, at least 22 homes will be damaged to such an extent that they will require offers of acquisition."

Mr Smith said those affected by mine subsidence have described it to him as a 'living hell'.

"The mine subsidence compensation experiences I have heard from the more than 50 families that have sought my assistance have confirmed in my mind that the process is neither quick, simple nor straight-forward," he said.

"Mine subsidence damage is a slow drip misery and tends to occur over periods of at least five years.

"The dilemma I face as the local MP in this matter is balancing the interests of those employed at the mine with those that will lose their family home.

"I am frustrated that Tahmoor Mine management have put the jobs of their 250 plus workforce in jeopardy by advancing an unsustainable and damaging expansion plan when there are other options at their disposal."

This story Tahmoor coal miners demand an apology from Wollondilly MP first appeared on Wollondilly Advertiser.