DEANS Marsh residents will band together to fight a mining company’s application to explore 499 square kilometres of Crown and public land for brown coal.
They will gather at the Deans Marsh Memorial Hall at 7pm next Wednesday and form a response to Mantle Mining’s bid to search areas around Deans Marsh, Whoorel and Bambra for brown coal.
They are worried about the effect exploration and any mining would have on land value, tourism and the environment – and they say brown coal mining conflicts the Federal Government’s attempts to tackle climate change.
Deans Marsh resident Shauna Gunn said exploration for coal would “spoil the area”.
“The area they’re looking at is an area where there is a lot of agricultural land, and there’s a lot of people in that area who are growing grape vines and the Otway Harvest Trail has done a lot of work to attract tourists and I don’t think an open-cut mine would sit well with tourists,” she said.
Bambra’s Judy Cameron said she initially thought the application was a joke.
“Then I saw that they were talking about new technology and exporting the coal and then I found out they want to export it to India and it became feasible all of a sudden,” she said.
“Knowing what we know about climate change and pollution, who would consider opening a coal mine?” she said.
Pennyroyal’s Mike Robinson-Koss, who is president of the Otway Agroforestry Network, said he would attend the public meeting and wanted to know more about the company’s application for a five-year licence to explore.
“The area around Deans Marsh I would have thought would be quite sought after in terms of tourism and tree changers – it’s a beautiful part of the world, I can’t see the locals let the area have an open-cut mine,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mantle Mining managing director Ian Kraemer said Mantle had access to dewatering technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if it was to pursue brown coal deposits around Deans Marsh.
When the Colac Herald asked Mr Kraemer about plans to export any potential coal to India, he said “where any coal might ever go is dependent on supply and demand”.
A Department of Primary Industries spokesman said Mantle would advertise its application in the Colac Herald, after which time Colac district residents will have 21 days to object.