There’s something about Australia’s sandstone universities – they’re grand, prestigious, and a little mysterious. But the University of Sydney’s million dollar investment in Whitehaven Coal and their destructive Maules Creek Coal Mine isn’t just mysterious – it’s downright dodgy.
Not only is Whitehaven responsible for the largest coal mine under construction in Australia, it is also flattening endangered forest, trashing Indigenous Australian heritage sites and destroying prime farmland. It’s not exactly in line with the University’s public policy to make green and ethical investments.
Here’s 5 things Sydney University’s investment means for our environment, farmland, and climate:
1. Bulldozing endangered native forest
To make way for the Maules Creek Coal Mine, huge tracts of the Leard State Forest – an area known for its extraordinary biodiversity – will be flattened.
Based on current proposals, the combined impacts of mining within the Leard State Forest would remove 60% of the forest and woodland, including 1,217ha of endangered Box Gum woodland and Derived Native Grassland.
2. 30 threatened species at risk
To make way for this new mine, huge tracts of the Leard State Forest – an area known for its extraordinary biodiversity – will be flattened.
The construction of Maules Creek coal mine directly threatens over 30 threatened species such as the squirrel glider and koala.
3. Trashing indigenous heritage sites
Numerous of indigenous heritage sites have already been trashed by Whitehaven Coal to make way for this new, dirty coal mine.
The University of Sydney prides itself on respect for the first owners of our land, but it has been funding this destruction all along. There are still several culturally significant heritage sites intact and time to save them.
4. Damaging Australian farmland
Local farmers are deeply concerned about the danger to what is one of the most fertile regions of NSW. The Maules Creek mine will reduce the local water table, in some places by up to six metres.
It has a license to draw three billion litres of water from the local Namoi River per year. While farmers face the aftermath of a severe drought, 4 million litres of water would be guzzled up every day from the nearby Namoi River to build the mine.
5. Fuelling dangerous climate change
Whitehaven’s Maules Creek coal mine is the largest coal mine currently under construction in in Australia. When in full production, it will contribute over 30 million tons of CO2 per year, materially accelerating dangerous global warming.
There’s nothing prestigious about the destruction of our environment. Even smart people make dumb choices, but the University of Sydney can fix this now. Tell Sydney University Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence to sell any shares in Whitehaven Coal before it is too late.