Independent Expert Panel for Mining in the Catchment

The Independent Expert Panel has been established to provide informed expert advice to the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) on the impact of mining activities in the Greater Sydney Water Catchment Special Areas, with a particular focus on risks to the quantity of water in the Catchment.

Advice will include, but is not confined to risks to the total water quantity and holding capacity of surface and groundwater systems, including swamps and reservoirs, and the types and reliabilities of methodologies used to predict, monitor, assess and report on mining effects, impacts and consequences.

As needed, the Independent Expert Panel will provide a source of expert advice to the Department of Planning and Environment on mining applications, including monitoring and management plans.


Terms of reference

The Independent Expert Panel will:

  1. Undertake an initial review and report on specific coal mining activities at the Metropolitan and Dendrobium coal mines in the Greater Sydney Water Catchment Special Areas, including:
    1. A review of the findings and recommendations of studies and reports deemed appropriate by the Panel, including but not confined to the reports:  
      1. Height of Cracking – Area 3B, prepared by PSM, dated 16 March 2017
      2. 2016 Audit of the Sydney Drinking Water Catchment, prepared by Alluvium, dated June 2017.
    2. A review of the types and reliability of prediction, monitoring and response methodologies (including mitigation, remediation and rehabilitation) currently used for assessing and managing the effects, impacts and consequences of mining activities at the Metropolitan and Dendrobium coal mines as they relate to water quantity, including having regard to historical data and performance.
    3. Provide advice and recommendations on measures required to improve approaches to prediction, monitoring, responses and reporting at the Metropolitan and Dendrobium coal mines, including having regard to cumulative risks posed to the quantity of drinking water available in the Greater Sydney Water Catchment Special Areas.
    4. Based on the outcomes TOR 1(a) to 1(c), provide advice to Government on how to respond to the findings and recommendations of reports reviewed as part of TOR 1a.
    5. In developing its advice, the Panel will meet, undertake site visits, seek information and data, and consult as needed.
    6. In delivering its report, the Panel will provide comment on and make observations or recommendations about any information or factors the Panel believes relevant; or further work that should be undertaken.
    7. A progress update on the report is to be delivered no later than 30 April 2018 and the report is to be delivered no later than 31 July 2018.
  2. Undertake a review of current coal mining in the Greater Sydney Water Catchment Special Areas with a particular focus on risks to the quantity of water available, the environmental consequences for swamps and the issue of cumulative impacts, including:
    1. A review and update of the findings of the 2008 Southern Coalfield Inquiry (Impacts of Underground Coal Mining on Natural Features in the Southern Coalfield – Strategic Review) for mining operations at the Dendrobium, Metropolitan, Russell Vale and Wongawilli mines, including recommending measures to improve the way mining effects, impacts and consequences in relation to water quantity are assessed and managed.
    2. In developing its advice, the Panel will meet, undertake site visits, seek information and data, and consult as needed.
    3. Establish a process for and invite public submissions, including from public authorities and special interest groups.
    4. In delivering its report, the Panel will provide comment on and make observations or recommendations about any information or factors the Panel believes relevant, including requirements to strengthen monitoring networks or undertaking further scientific research.
    5. The report is to be delivered no later than 31 December 2018.
  3. Provide advice as required to the Department of Planning and Environment on mining activities in the Greater Sydney Water Catchment Special Areas, which may include but is not confined to:
    1. A Subsidence Management Plan application for Longwall 16 at the Dendrobium mine.
    2. An Extraction Plan application for Longwall 303 at the Metropolitan mine.
    3. An Environmental Impact Statement for the Dendrobium Extension Project.
    4. A Preferred Project Report for the Russell Vale Underground Expansion Project.
    5. A modification application for the Wongawilli mine.

Chair and membership

Emeritus Professor Jim Galvin (Interim Chair)

Emeritus Professor (University of New South Wales) in Mining Engineering and former Member of the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC), Professor Galvin is one of the world’s foremost experts on underground coal mining and subsidence. Professor Galvin was a member of the Independent Panel for the Southern Coalfield Inquiry (2008) and several subsequent PAC reviews of mining projects in the Southern Coalfield. He has served as Chair of the Victorian Government Technical Review Board which advises the Minister on risks presented by quarrying and mining in Victoria and is currently the Chair of the Coal Innovation NSW Ministerial Advisory Council. He has also provided peer review advice on the Dendrobium Height of Cracking Study.

Dr Ann Young

Dr Young has a PhD in Upland Swamps on the Woronora Plateau and was previously a lecturer at the University of Wollongong's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Dr Young is the author of several academic books on environmental science, including Upland Swamps in the Sydney Region published in 2017. Over the last decade, she has made submissions to the NSW Government on the environmental assessment of underground coal mining and was a member of Community Consultative Committees at the Dendrobium and Russell Vale mines.

Professor Neil McIntyre

Professor of Regional Water and Land Resources at The University of Queensland, Professor McIntyre holds an MSc and PhD from Imperial College London. He has world-leading experience in impacts of land use and climate change on water yields, particularly in relation to mining. His roles have included serving on the British Hydrological Society committee, the Institution of Civil Engineer’s Water Expert Panel and the Steering Committee of the Commonwealth Leading Practice Sustainable Development Program.

Mr Michael Williams  

Former Principal Hydrogeologist for the NSW Office of Water and recipient of the Public Service Medal (PSM), Mr Williams has 40 years of experience in the NSW public sector and is one of the most distinguished groundwater practitioners in Australia. Mr Williams had lectured at the Australian Groundwater School for over 20 years and is currently providing independent advice to the NSW Government on the Narrabri Gas Project.

Dr Chris Armstrong, Acting NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer

Dr Chris Armstrong is the Acting NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer. A recipient of the Public Service Medal (PSM), Dr Armstrong has a PhD in chemistry from the University of Sydney. Dr Armstrong has over 14 years of experience in science and research portfolios in the NSW public sector. Dr Armstrong supported the previous Chief Scientist & Engineer on topics such as Coal Seam Gas, Thirlmere Lakes, and on measuring cumulative impacts in the catchment.


Secretariat

Secretariat support for the Independent Expert Panel is provided by the Office of the Chief Scientist & Engineer.


Meeting minutes  

No.DateFile
119 February 2018View here
25 March 2018View here
320 March 2018View here
426 March 2018View here
53 April 2018View here
619 April 2018View here
730 May 2018View here
813 June 2018View here

Public Submissions

Making a Submission

The Independent Expert Panel invites interested stakeholders from the community, industry, business and other sectors to make submissions to inform its inquiries.

Interested individuals and organisations are encouraged to make submissions by 30 September 2018.

Please ensure that submissions:

  • Are no more than 10 pages long (excluding appendices)
  • Have clear headings
  • Succinctly address the issues or topics areas as they relate to the Terms of Reference

Submissions can be lodged electronically at catchment.panel@chiefscientist.nsw.gov.au.

Note: all submissions to the Independent Expert Panel will be published on this website unless marked "Confidential".

Published Submissions

 NameFile
1National Parks Association of NSWView
2WaterNSWView
3Wollondilly Shire CouncilView
4National Parks Association of NSWView

Reports


Contact

The secretariat can be reached by email at catchment.panel@chiefscientist.nsw.gov.au or telephone (02) 9338 6786.