Dendobrium Destroyer

Dendobriums constitute a large genus of attractive Australian native orchids, endemic to S.E. Australia, but incredibly one of its hybrids has apparently transformed into a destructive coal-mine poised to grow under Sydney’s water catchment in the bush.

No, it’s not a science fiction plot! Mining company South 32 is taking the piss with it’s Orwellian (compulsory mention) use of a flower name to describe its underground mine, which has already caused land subsidence and cracked stream bottoms in the area south west of the city – thus damaging and undermining catchments feeding it’s water supply storage. And probably killing thousands of dendobriums!

Anti-Dendobrium would be a more appropriate, and truthful, mine name. Or, how about renaming it The Undermine Mine?

Dendobrium Mine expansion approval process has been dragging on for years. NSW government’s one-stop shop for avoiding ‘green tape’ interference in development and coal & gas projects, also known as the Department of Planning, Industry & Environment, had recommended that it go ahead, ‘in the public interest’. 

Other mining projects in the area had been previously approved, but fortunately this application was rejected by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC): environmental impacts are not appropriately manageable and are likely to be irreversible. The applicant had egregiously ignored serious concerns of WaterNSW about the long term effects on Sydney’s water supply. Just take a pause to consider what’s in play here!  

I’m often in awe of blatant government stupidity in this country, and the connivance of an increasingly supine and politicised public service, but endorsement of mining under a city water supply has to be a world-leading act of environmental vandalism and (criminal?) negligence by government officials, elected or otherwise.

NSW Deputy Premier Pork Barrel-aro (jocularly so named by the Premier) has attacked the IPC decision, as it will cost thousands of jobs, blah, etc. and is seeking legal advice for the government to overturn the IPC decision. The so-called State Opposition is also in favour of the mine expansion, so activists and IPCers are holding the thin green line.

Meanwhile Sydneysiders, apparently in ‘mental lockdown’, are blithely more attuned to their latest Netflix binge or Facebook feed than the threat to their own water supply. 

Oh, and the Orchid Society of NSW should go after South 32 for abusive damage to the reputation of a favoured orchid genus and defamatory mis-use of its name for their undermining skulduggery. Rise up orchidologists and unite against this infamy!

Photo credit: Julie Sheppard

1 Comment

  1. Yep, this is a major stuff up. What they all don’t say is they have already been under the dams and waterways and caused significant damage. E.g., around Thirlmere Lakes.

    When you drive down the F6 you can see how the large blocks of sandstone that the roadway was cut through, have subsided at a more rapid rate further than the roadway, breaking up the road edges (and gutters). We aren’t talking about a small amount of subsidence.

    There is no shortage of metallurgical coal from other ‘open cut’ sources and there is no reason to risk further damage to the water supply of Sydney and the Illawarra.

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