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Mining and agriculture able to 'co-exist' in Namoi: study
01/08/2012 - A water study of the Namoi Catchment has concluded that mining and agriculture can co-exist in this area of the NSW central west.
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The study was commissioned in 2010 after farmers became aware that the area was the target of major coalmining projects.
The Namoi Catchment Water Study, released on Tuesday, has found that mining does not pose a risk to water supplies in the catchment and at Liverpool Plains.
"Coal resources exist only in the western 60 per cent of the Namoi catchment and water resources in the upstream eastern sector of the catchment are not at risk from coal development activities," the report said.
State Resources Minister Chris Hartcher said the study had examined three hypothetical scenarios, and mining was not found to be a risk in even the most extreme modelling.
"Even under the study's hypothetical scenario three, which vastly overestimates the growth of the resource industries in the region, the estimated impact of coal and coal seam gas activity is not significant," Hartcher said.
"Further, the study determines that even under extreme hypothetical scenarios of substantial industry expansion, the potential impacts of coalmining and gas extraction are low when compared to existing water drawdown from existing uses."
The NSW Minerals Council also welcomed the findings, saying they demonstrated that the cumulative impacts of coalmining in the region could be managed.
Mining giant Santos said it had no foreseeable production proposals which extend beyond what is generally contemplated in the study's second scenario.
"In the study, the scenario that reflects the most likely development of the CSG industry in the region, scenario two, shows that the drawdown in the alluvium from CSG activity is insignificant," Santos environment manager Alan Feely said in a statement.
But NSW Farmers Association president Fiona Simpson said the study found there was still considerable uncertainty on the surface water and groundwater impacts of mining and CSG activities at the project level.
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