Report on proposed Watermark Coal Project

by Rod Campbell

The proposed Watermark Coal Project is for the construction of an open-cut mine into agricultural land and native forest, in the Liverpool Plains region, 25km south south-east of the township of Gunnedah and to the immediate west of the village of Breeza, within the Gunnedah Local Government Area. The proposal is for a 30-year open cut mine which will extract up to 10 million tonnes per annum of Run of Mine (ROM) coal.

The Liverpool Plains is one of Australia’s most productive agricultural regions, combining deep, alluvial black soils with sustainably managed irrigation practices. The Watermark project is likely to have an impact on these agricultural resources.

Local community group, the Caroona Coal Action Group, commissioned The Australia Institute to make a submission on the economic assessment of the Watermark project to the Planning and Assessment Commission, which we did in June 2014. Key points include:

  • Inappropriate use of input-output modelling which overstates the project’s positive impacts.
  • Impacts of the project on agriculture are ignored, with assessment focussing only on the agricultural land of the project area and no consideration of wider impacts outside the direct project area.
  • Coal prices and operating costs included in the cost benefit analysis are not in line with credible estimates.

Full report