Coal dust threatens farm family


Pat Murphy is a farmer and father of four young girls. Like all youngsters, the girls love to play outdoors – but Pat’s farm is right beside the Maules Creek coal mine near Gunnedah in New South Wales.

That means that Pat and his neighbours live with excessive dust and noise pollution.

The mine commenced operation in December 2014. Starting at 6 million tonnes per annum in December 2014, Whitehaven Pty Ltd’s mine will double production over three years to 13Mtpa making it one of Australia’s largest open cut mines.

The mine is opposed by farmers, environmentalists and the Gomoroi Traditional Owners.

For months, Pat has been forced to take time out of farming duties to engage with government departments, parliamentarians and the company in an attempt to strengthen the mine’s licence conditions. His requests are modest and reasonable: wind monitoring to ensure blasting doesn’t happen when the wind blows towards his house, best practice dust management and the enforcement of the national particle pollution standards. But he has been stymied at every turn. Only delays and buck-passing so far.