RIO Tinto will meet with Bulga residents on Wednesday after more than six years of fighting over Mount Thorley Warkworth mine’s expansion.
Protest: Bulga residents protest in Sydney against Rio Tinto’s Mount Thorley Warkworth expansion plans. While residents twice beat Rio in court, the expansion was approved.
The meeting between Rio Tinto chief executive officer Ivan Vella and three Bulga residents led by Robert McLaughlin comes only days after residents were forced to end their last-ditch attempt to beat the company in court after the expansion was approved.
Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association president John Krey said Rio Tinto management’s offer to meet residents was welcome.
Angry: John Krey at his Bulga property with the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine in the background.
“However it’s a sad reflection that this is the first one-on-one meeting we’ve had in the six and a half years we’ve been fighting the ugly, open-cut Warkworth coal mine expansion,” Mr Krey said.
“We’re in the dark about why we are meeting. We plan to remind Rio Tinto how their social license in the Hunter Valley has been smashed and that the community is continuing to work with our legal team and will fight this destructive expansion to the end.”
Mr Krey said community ill feel towards Rio Tinto ran deep.
The company’s “unacceptable” behaviour was “exemplified by the company tearing up our 2003 deed of agreement and its recent commencement of clearing Saddle Ridge bushland which buffers the town from the mine”.
“We will take the opportunity to ask if and when Rio Tinto plans to sell the mine, why we must live with the burgeoning dust and noise, how we will cope with the loss of assets as a result of the crash in our property values and if it has any rehabilitation plans in place,” Mr Krey said.
“The Bulga community has so much at stake. We will not give up on working to stop this mine.”