Rebecca Sturrock – z3314111 Lecture 4 blog

Refer to article attached Atcicle– The Extractive Industry and Society, Do coal-related health harms constitute a resource curse? A case study from Australia’s Hunter Valley

Authors Ruth Colagiuri, Emily Morrice

I read this article and felt that it relates well to this week’s reading by Raymond and the PESTLE analysis. The article is about the effects of the coal industry in the Hunter Valley and the feelings of the community. The article reflects on the whether the lure of the mining revenue from the coal industry has the same effect as the resource curse or Dutch Disease in the Hunter Valley. The views of the community are expressed in qualitative information and personal experiences and this information is considered alongside scientific knowledge. Colagiuri states The peer reviewed literature is augmented with additional material from the ‘grey’ or non peer reviewed literature from technical, media and other reports from the Hunter Valley (pg 255)

Colagiuri goes on to explain that the formal literature is sourced with objectivity and therefore does not express the true outrage of the community. The objectivity is based on a tacit government-industry ‘collaboration’ to expand coal-based economic growth (pg 253). Both sides of the socioeconomic benefits to the area are outlined the positive effects to the region including the contribution to the GDP of 3-4%, employment and higher incomes in the mining sector and that State government collects resource rents and royalties. The negative effects include that the profits from the mines are not retained in the region as investors are based overseas. The mines receive subsidies, tax incentives and supporting infrastructure (e.g. major coal port). Legislation has been changed to advantage the mining industry including the Water Management Act 2000 which gave water priority to mining companies over farmers. Legislation changes to the Environmental Planning Act which makes it easier for mining companies to get proposed developments through. Although they do not reference any direct corruption the ICAC investigations are discussed in the article. All of this legal and political influence causing mistrust and lack of confidence in the government and mining industry. There is Hunter Valley literature to support that the political power of he mining interests has influenced legislation (pg 257)

The local community has expressed concern regarding the mining industries dust polluting air, soil and water quality. They believe that the mines pose risk to other industries in the area including pastral industries, race-horse breeding, wine making and the tourism industry.  The socio impact has caused a dualism economy dividing the communities into those that are for or against the mining industry. Residents state in a survey that their personal, social and cultural ties wee broken by mining activity (pg 255). There is no literature or study that has been undertaken on the impacts in the Hunter Valley to support the feelings of the community. This theory is supported by broader literature related to the resource curse.

Even though the community has voices and expressed concerns on the legislation it is difficult for them to access information. Colagiuri page 256 states ‘residents find it difficult and sometimes impossible to obtain critical information on proposed mining developments.

Information relating to Ecological impacts in the region are categorised into two knowledge categories Distributional and Procedural:

Distributional Impacts are discusses that communities closer to the mining activity are impacted more. Complaints to the NSW EPA rose by 30% from 2002 to 2006, these increases coinciding with the increase in open cut mining.

Procedural impacts – communities reported doubt about the government’s ability to give accurate environmental information.  The article discuss that despite over 3000 license breaches in air quality monitoring only 6 wend to court. Air quality monitoring at coal extraction sites primarily remains the responsibility of the coal industry rather than the health authorities

Health impacts are reported as direct and indirect effects within the industry. The direct effects supported by factorial information but no studies have been undertaken to fully understand the impacts of indirect effects. The article again highlighting that the externalities of the coal industry not recorded and that economic studies should be done to incorporate the health repercussions and its impact on communities into the costs for the mining industry.

Overall I found this article really relevant for discussion when looking at knowledge, information, literature and actual data available for the effects of the coal industry. IPCC predicts that if catastrophic climate change is to be avoided 80% of the worlds known fossil fuel reserves need to remain in the ground (Pg 259)

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