Archive for the ‘Threats from Mining’ Category

Coal Seam Gas protests against Metgasco Limited

Thursday, December 26th, 2013
CSG Protest against Metgasco at BentleyLocal community protest against Metgasco coal seam gas drilling around Bentley/Rock Valley, 20131014
About 14km west of Lismore, New South Wales, Australia
[Source:  Photo by Marie Cameron, ^http://www.echo.net.au/2013/10/csg-flash-mob-at-bentley/]

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May 2009:   Before the state election, Barry O’Farrell promised:

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“The next Liberal/National Government will ensure that mining cannot occur…in any water catchment area, and will ensure that mining leases and mining exploration permits reflect that common sense;   NO IFS, NO BUTS, A GUARANTEE.”

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Sep 2012: NSW Government approves Coal Seam Gas in the Northern Rivers

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North Sydney based Metgasco Limited (Metgasco) is a publicly listed company on the Australian Stock Market focused on exploring and developing gas resources including coal seam methane gas (CSG) in the Northern Rivers Region of New South Wales.

In September 2012, the New South Wales (NSW) state government approved the first production of coal seam gas in the Northern Rivers Region, awarding exploration licences to Metgasco.  The licences cover what Metgasco calls its ‘Casino Gas Project‘.

The gas extraction has only become economically viable since the adaptation of the American hydraulic fracturing (abbreviated ‘fracking’) technique invented in 1997 that requires high pressure water with toxic and flammable benzene in order to fracture coals and rock seams deep underground to release natural gas.

The production licence covers an area of land 22km west-southwest of Lismore.

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Visual of Bentley areaBentley pastoral landscape inside the Leycester Catchment

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Simultaneously, the NSW government also renewed several coal seam gas exploration licences throughout NSW, lifted a ban on the controversial American ‘fracking’ process, and revealed new regulations to govern the industry.

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Metgasco CSG Petroleum Exploration LicensesMetgasco’s Petroleum Exploration Licenses (PEL) 16, 13, and 426
Approved by the NSW Government in 2013
[Source:  Metgasco website, ^http://www.metgasco.com.au/information/pel-map]

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Metgasco managing director and CEO Peter Henderson said Metgasco hoped to be granted many more production licences in the Northern Rivers Region in the future.

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CEO Peter Henderson:

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“We’re hoping to supply a whole lot more gas to the local area, but to do so we’ll have to go through the same process of putting development submissions together, seeking approvals and getting production licences… and that process will be more difficult that it was before because of the government’s new regulations. It’s a case of drilling more wells, putting flow lines in, building power plants and so forth, it’s not very exciting stuff.”

“We’ve got a range of opportunities in terms of drilling the wells however we’re not proposing any fracking in this production licence. The work we’ve done to-date suggests the top coal we’re looking at is better developed by drilling horizontal wells, it’s the most economic way of getting the gas out of the coal.

There’s a possibility in the future when we want to develop some of the deeper coals we might find that fracking is the best way of proceeding and if we do that all those wells will be approved by government.”

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Gasfield FreeCoal Seam Gas protest sign by the local community
Nimbin, Northern Rivers Region, New South Wales, Australia
[Photo by Editor 20131023, © under  ^Creative Commons]

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Grassroots protest organisation, Lock the Gate’s Boudicca Cerese predicted the anti-CSG community would block any attempt by Metgasco to resume drilling, because it was the company’s ultimate intent to drill “hundreds if not thousands” of wells.  “They need to make a profit – they will want all the gas in their licence area which requires large-scale industrial gasfields,” Ms Cerese said.

Metgasco participated in the successful NSW Energy Security Summit on 26 September 2013, at which the serious gas shortages facing NSW consumers over the coming years were given extensive media coverage.  Major energy users, farming community representatives and other stakeholders joined gas explorers and producers in reviewing the very disturbing forecasts of steep gas price increases in all eastern states.

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<< Metgasco has an ally at the Richmond Valley Council. He is none other than the GM. Although the council has many elected representatives the GM seems to be the one representing Richmond Valley whenever important decisions has to be taken. Our democracy has been slowly metamorphosing into Demockery and what more blatant evidence than seeing the GM run the monthly council meetings. >>

[Source: Casino Environment Centre]

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[Ed:  The threat of domestic gas shortages in Australia is a greedy gas industry cartel hoax warranting a Royal Commission enquiry, removal of industry self-regulation, punitative fines and industry restructure.    The General manager of Richmond Valley Council, John Walker, must be a gullible fool if he bleats the con that Metgasco’s gas interests are for the local Richmond Valley Power Station, local jobs and local infrastructure. 

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Metgasco’s largest shareholder is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liquified Natural Gas Limited (LNG) now mainly owned by China Huanqiu Contracting and Engineering Corporation.   Metgasco is primarily interested in converting CSG to LNG, desires a separate LNG offshore floating facility for export so it can profit from overinflated foreign LNP market pricing.

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All domestic interest is unprofitable and a PR con.]

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Local Community Anger

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Bentley CSG Flash MobLocal community protest at Bentley

[Source:  ^http://www.echo.net.au/2013/10/csg-flash-mob-at-bentley/]

 

The approval of Metgasco’s production licence has angered Northern Rivers anti-coal seam gas campaigners.  Boudicca Cerese from the Lock the Gate Alliance said the State Government had ignored the concerns of the majority of the community.

Boudicca Cerese:

“What the granting of these licences clearly shows is that the government has capitulated to the vested interests of the CSG industry and this industry is now proceeding in the region without a social licence.  There’s overwhelming opposition from the public to this industry and yet the government is going ahead regardless.”

The community has said all along ‘where is the science that proves this won’t impact our groundwater?’ And it’s not there. All this is just being forced on the community without and proper investigation of the impacts.”

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[Source: Coal seam gas production approved’, 20120912, by Samantha Turnbull, Justine Frazier, Kim Honan, Joanne Shoebridge, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ^http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/09/12/3588570.htm]

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Metgasco‘s CSG exploration encroaches into Rous Water Catchment

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Metgasco’s PEL 16 (exploration licence) envelopes all of the beef industry town of Casino and its 9000 or more residents.   The CSG license extends over the rich agricultural area around Casino, over Bungabee State Forest and encroaches into key water tributaries of Back Creek and Leycester Creek within Rous Water’s Leycester Creek Catchment (‘x‘ on map below).

Rous Water is continually undertaking important projects to maximise the quality and security of a healthy drinking water supply for the region.  Metgasco isn’t.

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Rous Water Catchment AreasRous Water Catchment Map, showing Metgasco encroachment
[Source: ^http://www.rouswater.nsw.gov.au/cp_themes/default/page.asp?p=DOC-XNV-56-40-53#ls]

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Dec 2012:  NSW Government installs mining lackies to its water board

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<< The NSW government’s Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, has replaced the entire Board of the Sydney Catchment Authority, the independent body established for the sole purpose of protecting our drinking water supplies.  The new chairperson is a former director of two of Australia’s largest mining companies.

In opposition, the (now) Minister for Resources, Chris Hartcher, lectured parliament extensively about the dangers posed by coal seam gas (CSG) mining, using Eastern Mining’s pollution of the Pilliga as an example. Similarly the Premier made a ‘no ifs, no buts’ unconditional promise to ban mining in our water catchments.

Subsequently, we have witnessed CSG contamination events across NSW and Queensland that clearly demonstrate that neither the industry or current planning and legislation standards can be relied on to protect vital areas – such as our drinking water catchments and prime farmland – from the effects of CSG mining.

Since obtaining office with these opposing policies, Minister Hartcher has overseen CSG licence renewals and drilling approvals across our drinking water catchments that include approval for fracking. This is despite mounting scientific evidence of the danger CSG mining poses to water supplies, the increased risk created when fracking is used and the dubious nature of the clean energy tag attributed to unconventional gas by the CSG industry.

Hartcher Hodgkinson

The NSW Government has ignored most recommendations of the Upper House Review Committee into CSG mining. The ensuing Strategic Regional Land Use Policy turned out to be farcical in protecting our drinking water from production CSG mining.

In the context of CSG licenses being granted over drinking water catchments, including two in the Illawarra, this is of grave concern. How can it possibly be acceptable that the authority charged with protecting our drinking water – for the purpose of public health – has not one public health expert, but is headed up by a former mining executive?

It is difficult to recall a period when an Australian state has seen such disregard for proper government process and standards. It’s time for all citizens of NSW to let this government know, in no uncertain terms, that this latest abuse of power is a step too far. >>

[Source:   ‘Abuse of power; pure and simple’, 20121212, Stop CSG Illawarra, ^http://stop-csg-illawarra.org/2012/abuse-of-power-pure-and-simple/]

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July 2013:  Federal Resources Minister thinks CSG has rights over ‘hamlets’

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<<  Metgasco has just released a statement, in which director Peter Henderson says Metgasco is planning to start drilling again at its Rosella well, about 12km north east of Casino.

When Metgasco pulled out of the region early in the year, it blamed the State Government’s rules restricting CSG activity around populated areas. However, Mr Henderson is saying it is the attitude of the new Federal Government that has encouraged the company’s return:  “… recent regulatory and political developments, particularly since the September Federal election, have encouraged Metgasco to initiate the activities necessary to enable field operations to recommence,” he says in the statement.

The new Resources Minister, Ian Macfarlane, has been particularly outspoken in favour of coal seam gas since the Federal election, saying the exclusion zones blocking CSG wells should exist only around “urban centres” – not “hamlets”. >>

[Source:  ‘Metgasco is back!’, 201307, The Northern Star]

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Dec 2013:   Nimbin Environment Centre says the gloves are off!

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Nimbin Environment Centre

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<< The fight is hotting up. Metgasco is planning to drill on a property at Bungabee Road Bently.

Residents have been discussing and organising and Nimbin Environment Centre is helping out. A regular protest is being held twice weekly on Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon at Naughtons Gap intersection . Call us if you need a lift to get there.

NEC also supports the Food Not Bombs event held every second Friday on Cullen St. Please come and join this great initiative by James Creagh.  A big thank you to Phil Mitten who has kept at his post at the Nimbin Environment Centre for many many years now. Phil has had to cease volunteering at Nimbin Environment Centre because of family commitments.  We wish him the very best.

The gloves are off and the NSW government along with Martin Ferguson now chair of APPEA Advisory Board and Mac Fartlane Federal Resources minister  are intent on destructive industries such as new Open Cut Coal mines and unconventional gas extraction.

Many people come to our centres at NEC and CEC dishearten, throwing their arms in the air and conceding defeat. I say to those people do not despair because that is exactly what they want you to do. They are afraid of the power of people informed and united. This is why they lie and fabricate and invent crisises like; there is a gas shortage, NSW will be left in the dark.  The price of gas will sky rocket!  The gas industry will create thousands of jobs!

These are all proven lies, a look at what independent pundits are saying and a little research will quickly exposed these myths. As for ‘most people in Casino want the gas’  here is the result of some unusual statistics taken at demos in front of Metgasco’s office in Casino.

Tallies of Toots vs fingers ( people who honk or wave  in support of our anti-gas stand and those who make rude gestures) show a consistent 87-90% against gas. So if you don’t believe us ( that includes Mr Walker, Henderson and company) come join us and see for yourselves.

In the end people power will return democracy to its rightful place in spite of bullying by Big Corporations, The Feds and the Rum Corps of NSW.

Viva La Revolution!  >>

[Source:  Nimbin Environment Centre]

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Nov 2013:  Hundreds at Metgasco Protest

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CSG Protect at Casino against Metgasco

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Police estimated almost 300 people turned up at Metgasco’s Casino office yesterday to protest the company’s ongoing exploration for coal-seam and other unconventional gas in the area.

One man’s handwritten sign put the crowd’s feelings succinctly:

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‘We are living in the age of stupid when money, gas companies, power, politicians, ego, greed are more important than water, earth, life, air and us.’

Age of Stupidity

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[Source:  Photo: David Lowe, ^http://www.echo.net.au/2012/11/hundreds-at-metgasco-protest/]

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June 2013:  State govt fast-tracked Metgasco licence

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<< Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham has released Department of Resources documents appearing to show the State Government was trying to fast-track Metgasco’s production licence and make an announcement to the industry before the department had set any conditions on the licences.

Mr Buckingham obtained the documents under a freedom of information request.

In an email dated August 6, last year, Lindsay Cohen, a liaison officer to resources minister Chris Hartcher said in relation to the approval of a production licence for Metgasco that “the minister is keen to approve this”.   He then said the department will still need to “work on conditions” but that they “want to issue a media release accordingly as a signal to industry that progress is being made”.

In another revelation, it seems Metgasco did not want to have any announcement about their production licence being granted before council elections on September 8, possibly because of the CSG referendum being held by Lismore City Council.

And from Lindsay Cohen on August 21: “Confidential: Metgasco advised the minister that it would be premature for the approval to be signed and announced yet as there would be ASX/share price ramifications that need to be planned for.

“They also would prefer it to be grouped with the conditional approval and subsequent announcement of the PELs as discussed in cabinet.”

The announcement about Metgasco’s production licence, the first issued by the O’Farrell Government was made on September 11 (after the elections) in the last paragraph of a media release about the renewal of other exploration licences.

Lock the Gate Northern Rivers spokeswoman, Boudicca Cerese, said the documents showed the minister was sending one message to industry and another to the community.

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Boudicca Cerese:

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“It exposes the hypocrisy of the State Government. 

On one hand they are trying to convince people that their regulations are world’s best practice, yet on the other hand they are trying to push through the licence without even sorting out the conditions.”  >>

.ICAC finds NSW Government Ministers CorruptHere we go again..

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So why does ANU have $900m in shares in Metgasco?

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ANU

<< One of Australia’s leading universities, which is a top 20 shareholder in Metgasco, says it is still planning to sell its shares more than a year after promising to do so.

The Australian National University, which holds more than $900 million in listed and unlisted investments, holds 2.5 million shares in Metgasco.

In October 2011, the university promised to sell the stock, but hasn’t. While the stock does not represent any untoward investment behaviour by the university, it has grated on students who oppose the CSG extraction.

The issue has sparked a Freedom of Information application from a students group called the ANU Environment Collective that wants to see the stock sold.

ANU said yesterday it was still planning to sell down its shareholding in the company, but there were “few potential buyers”. >>

[Source:  ‘Protests do hurt csg miner’, 20130125, by Peter Weekes, The Northern Star, ^http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/protests-do-hurt-csg-miner/1731009/]

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CSG Blockage against Metgasgo

Water, not Gas !

 

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