Maules Creek

Maules Creek is the region in NSW in which the Leard State Forest is located. It is also the name of the mining project controlled by Whitehaven Coal that threatens to destroy large parts of Leard State Forest to create a giant open cut coal mine. The project construction costs are estimated to total $767 million.

Maules Creek is located approximately 18km north-east of the town Boggabri and is about 40km from Narrabri. The health of the community and the cost of living in the local area will face serious impacts from increased coal mining.

The Maules Creek mine will emit over 18,000 tonnes of coal dust in the mining process. That does not take into account the dust created during the transport of the coal all the way to Newcastle for export. Coal dust is linked to serious respiratory illnesses and has also been linked to increased levels of childhood asthma. Tens of thousands of people die worldwide every year of illnesses linked with coal.

The Cost to Communities near Coal Mines

Adults in coal mining communities have higher rates of mortality from lung cancer, and chronic heart, respiratory and kidney diseases. They also have higher rates of cardiopulmonary disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung disease, hypertension, kidney disease, heart attack and stroke, and asthma. Adults in these communities also have an increased probability of hospitalisation for COPD, and have a poorer self- rated health and reduced quality of life.1

Infant and foetal outcomes in mining communities are just as concerning. Studies have found an increased rate of respiratory symptoms including wheezing, coughing and an increase in absences from school with respiratory symptoms. The study also found high blood levels of heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, as well as a higher incidence of neutral tube deficits, general birth defects and a greater chance of being of low birth weight.1

A recent study found that rental prices in coal mining towns can soar almost 400% over a ten year period. This and other cost of living impacts can cause a two tiered society – whereby those who work on the mine on high wages can afford all they like, whilst others go without. To put this into perspective, note the following rent increases over a ten year period (1998-2008):

  • Brisbane +100%

  • Springsure +160%

  • Blackwater +162.1%

  • Rolleston +175.0%

  • Nebo +283.0%

  • Moranbah + 393.5%

These rises (in combination with the social impacts of mining on local communities) make it increasingly difficult for non-mining locals to remain in, and enjoy, their hometowns.2

Often, small local businesses cannot compete with the high wages offered by the mines and staff shortages occur, leading to business closures.

A study on six mining towns in the Bowen Basin found:2

  • In all communities:

    • accommodation was in short supply and expensive

    • clubs and organisations were under pressure

    • itinerants cause visual and crime impacts and impacts on social fabric and identity of the community

    • shift work/ itinerant lifestyle cause mental, physical and social health issues

    • an increase in traffic density and (potential) motor vehicle accidents

  • In four or more communities:

    • an increase in staff shortages

    • high turnover and/or dwindling school enrolments

    • mines cause coal dust, noise and power shortages

The effects of coal harm communities at every stage. The Maules Creek community, as well as local Boggabri and Narrabri towns are at serious risk of impacts from the nearby mining projects. Places as far as Newcastle and even communities in China and India (where the coal is likely to be exported to) will suffer.

Please view the Leard State Forest page for more information on the Maules Creek area.

1 Colagiure R, Cochrane J, Girgis S (2012) Health and Social Harms of Coal Mining in Local communities: Spotlight on the Hunter Region. Beyond Zero Emissions, Melbourne