It is with a huge sigh of relief that the proposed Anglo American Drayton South project has been knocked back by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission. In recent weeks and months the outcome of the application to extend the open cut mine was most uncertain and was looking like it might go the mine’s way. As the determination has been made after a public hearing it appears that there is no right of appeal (Section 23F Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979) This latest decision follows on from work done by the breeders in the Hunter Valley to defeat the Bickham Coal mine a few years ago. Had this mine gone ahead then it most likely would have been the death knell of the Thoroughbred Industry in NSW at least as it would have come within 500 metres of the boundaries of Coolmore and Darley’s Woodlands stud. The environmental threat to air quality and to the supply and pollution of water cannot be overestimated. The Hunter Valley, along with Newmarket in the UK and Kentucky in the USA is one of three world renowned centres of breeding excellence in the world. It has the highest concentration of thoroughbred stud outside of Kentucky in the USA and is the only one of the three breeding centres that is not protected by the state or federal government. The intrusion of mining threatens its viability and reputation as a centre of breeding excellence. Already Qatar’s Sheikh Fahad Al Tahni has shied away from investing and establishing a breeding farm in the Hunter Valley because of the continuing encroachment of open cut mining in the Hunter Valley. The horses bred in the Hunter are bred to race and to be athletes. Purity of air for their lungs is essential. Dust, such as coal dust, can adversely affect their lungs and may cause a condition known as heaves. The pollution threat was a significant factor in Sheikh Fahad Al Tahni’s decision to reject investing in the Hunter Valley. If you fly between Sydney and the NSW Far North Coast or the Gold Coast in daylight and look out over the inland side of the plane you would be astonished at how much land is already subject to open cut mining. The Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association reports that the Hunter Valley breeders produce and provide
- Half of all Thoroughbreds born in Australia.
- 75% of horses racing in Sydney and Melbourne.
- 80-90% of Australia’s Thoroughbred exports – Export markets include New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, South Africa, China, Malaysia, and Japan. (Yearlings are also sold to Ireland and the United Kingdom).
- Significant long term regional employment – employing over 1,000 people directly, 3,000 indirectly in the Hunter Valley, and contributing to 231,700 employees and participants across Australia. (Also, figures in past years have suggested that the thoroughbred industry is the third largest employer in Australia). Importantly, many of the jobs the industry provides are jobs for unskilled workers who would struggle to find any work without the thoroughbred industry.
. Over $5 billion to the national economy and $2.4 billion to the NSW economy.
- 74% of Australia-wide revenue from stallion fees
- Incomes that are
- 2 times the value of irrigated agriculture;
- 4.5 times the value of dairy and
- 10 times the value of meat and cattle
The Thoroughbred Industry is renewable, and uses sustainable practices to preserve the land, unlike mining. The life of a mine is very limited. Once the mine is exhausted a large dusty useless hole in the ground is left, water may be polluted and the employment gone. Its environmental impacts threaten the other agricultural industries in the area. It is unlikely that this will be the end of the story or the last battle against mining or CSG in the Hunter or the Liverpool Plains area of NSW. Sutton Forest in the Southern Highlands is under threat and there are areas on the South Coast of NSW that may be under threat. If you know of any other areas in Australia where breeders and agriculture are under threat from mining and CSG let us know and make a noise!  Racing & Sports 16/4/14  Racing & Sports 16/4/14  HTBA Presentation 9/14