The Blackwater Lawn Cemetery will remain despite the threat it faces from an underground coal mine.
The Blackwater Lawn Cemetery will remain despite the threat it faces from an underground coal mine.

Grave fears for new mine

A “LUDICROUS” proposal to develop a coal mine adjoining the southern border of Blackwater has sparked an uproar.

Residents are outraged over Caledon Resources’ plan to develop an underground coal mine on an area containing the Blackwater Lawn Cemetery with major mine infrastructure potentially situated within a “stone’s throw” of housing, schools and buildings.

Caledon’s proposed Minyango Project would cover 3325ha and produce up to nine million tonnes per annum over a life-span of 20 to 40 years.

“There is no way that we will relocate the lawn cemetery,” Mayor Peter Maguire said.

Two grazing families own much of the land affected by the project, but perhaps of more concern for the community was the fact it included the Blackwater Lawn Cemetery and the local landfill area.

Caledon acknowledged the method of mining would cause subsidence.

A spokesman admitted the Blackwater Rolleston Rd and the Blackwater mine railway “may require permanent relocation” as a result.

Member for Gregory Vaughan Johnson said the project plans were arrogant “...wanting to put a wash plant right on the perimeter of the town,” he said. “That sort of behaviour goes to show how much the industry is snubbing their nose at the people who live and work in the region.

“I can’t believe they even propose such a ludicrous bloody project in a situation like that.”

Blackwater Community Progress Group member Glenn Hamilton said the group was alarmed about the proximity of the mine infrastructure.

“They want to put a stockpile just 1km from the water tower… wind is going to blow all that dust straight into town, plus it poses a real fire hazard,” Mr Hamilton said.

The Central Highlands Regional Council will be lodging a submission recommending a number of amendments to the project’s draft Terms of Reference.

At a meeting on Monday, councillors approved the submission presented by Strategic Planning Manager Alexis Aylward.

“That (the lawn cemetery) is a site of significant historical and spiritual importance to the Blackwater community and should be viewed as such by the proponent.”

Leader of the opposition Campbell Newman described the project as “disgraceful” on a recent trip to the town.

The general manager of Caledon Resources was unreachable yesterday for comment.

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