THE Upper Hunter’s wineries and horse studs are renewing their calls today for the state government to ensure the Drayton South mine is not approved, in response to intense lobbying from the mine’s proponent, Anglo American.
Upper Hunter tourist operators are also backing the stance.
In an open letter to Premier Barry O’Farrell, Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner and key ministers, to be issued today, the three sectors have urged the government to heed the independent advice of the Planning Assessment Commission and new mining and petroleum Gateway Panel that the proposed mine is too close to renowned horse studs Coolmore and Darley. It is also near winery Hollydene.
‘‘If the new mine proposed at Drayton South proceeds it will result in a net loss of $457million to the NSW economy, it will strip $120million annually from our local economy, and it will put at risk 640 jobs,’’ says the letter, from Upper Hunter Tourism, Upper Hunter Winemakers Association and the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association.
‘‘It will place at risk thousands more jobs when the impacts on our state racing, wine and tourism industries ae taken into account.’’
Anglo American and the NSW Minerals Council have urged the government to approve the mine to the south of the existing Drayton mine, which is due to close in 2015.
About 20 mine workers also turned out to the recent community cabinet visit to Maitland to ask the government to approve the project.
The miner has run a series of full-page newspaper advertisements calling on the government to approve the project to provide continuing employment for its workers.
The horse studs, wineries and tourism operators say their jobs and those of their staff are important too, and the Coalition had promised before the election to protect their operations.
Darley has already threatened to leave the state if the mine is approved 500 metres away.
‘‘We cannot afford to put all our economic eggs in one basket,’’ Upper Hunter Tourism’s Craig Benjamin said.
In advice released in December, the Planning Assessment Commission said the mine should be rejected and the two studs be given the ‘‘highest level of protection from the impacts of mining’’.
A buffer of some kilometres was needed to protect the studs, which were integral to the region’s equine ‘‘critical industry cluster’’.
A newly constituted panel of the Planning Assessment Commission will decide on the project.