Studs ready to scale Ever­est to stop mine, again

The Australian - - FRONT PAGE - AN­DREW CLENNELL SAM BUCK­ING­HAM-JONES

As horserac­ing fans gear up for the $10 mil­lion Ever­est race in Syd­ney to­mor­row, with a third of the run­ners bred from Cool­more stud stal­lions, the NSW gov­ern­ment is once again con­sid­er­ing ap­prov­ing a mine that Cool­more says would threaten its vi­a­bil­ity.

NSW Re­sources Min­is­ter Don Har­win is con­sid­er­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion to re­new an ex­ploratory min­ing li­cence over the Dray­ton South mine site that is said to threaten the wel­fare of the Cool­more and Dar­ley studs, which pro­duce some of the coun­try’s best race­horses.

Of the Ever­est run­ners, Tulip was bred and raised at Cool­more to res­i­dent stal­lion Pierro, and Cool­more stal­lions pro­duced other fan­cied run­ners Chau­tauqua, English and De­ploy. Triple crown-win­ning stal­lion Amer­i­can Pharoah is cur­rently at stud there.

New con­sid­er­a­tion of a mine at Dray­ton South comes after four re­jec­tions by the Plan­ning As­sess- ment Com­mis­sion to sim­i­lar pro­pos­als from the com­pany that used to own the mine, to ex­tend it near the horse studs.

With the ex­plo­ration li­cence hav­ing ex­pired on the site and for­mer owner An­glo hav­ing sold it to Mal­abar Coal con­di­tional on re­newal and trans­fer of the li­cence, Mal­abar has fi­nally moved and ap­plied for re­newal with Mr Har­win. The Aus­tralian un­der­stands Mr Har­win is con­sid­er­ing whether to grant the ap­pli­ca­tion.

If ap­proval is granted, any mine would need to be granted plan­ning ap­proval to op­er­ate — some­thing pre­vi­ous own­ers of the mine were un­able to achieve on pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions.

Mal­abar Coal has be­gun a public-re­la­tions cam­paign in the area, ad­ver­tis­ing in the Hunter me­dia, say­ing “Mal­abar Coal has com­mit­ted to de­vel­op­ing an un­der­ground-only mine at EL 5460, pre­vi­ously known as Dray­ton South. We un­der­stand that if a coal mine de­vel­op­ment is to be suc­cess­ful, it must co-ex­ist with lo­cal in­dus­tries and gain its so­cial

li­cence from the com­mu­nity,” the com­pany says. “We be­lieve our pro­posal can de­liver sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits to the lo­cal com­mu­nity with­out dis­rupt­ing other in­dus­tries or land uses.

“In May we an­nounced the ac­qui­si­tion of the Dray­ton Mine and the ex­plo­ration li­cence … for the project pre­vi­ously known as Dray­ton South.”

But Hunter Thor­ough­bred Breed­ers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Cameron Collins said yes­ter­day the gov­ern­ment needed to show lead­er­ship.

“Four In­de­pen­dent Plan­ning As­sess­ment Com­mis­sions have ruled out min­ing on the Dray­ton South mine,” he said. “The gov­ern­ment needs to end the un­cer­tainty caused by end­less min­ing ap­pli­ca­tions which are sub­ject­ing our in­dus­try to a death by a thou­sand cuts. By agree­ing to re­new the Dray­ton South ex­plo­ration li­cence, the gov­ern­ment will reignite com­mu­nity con­flict on this is­sue and sig­nal that our in­dus­try is dis­pens­able, col­lat­eral dam­age to the on­go­ing on­slaught of min­ing in the Hunter.”

Dr Collins said the gov­ern- ment had a wealth of sci­en­tific and ex­pert information be­fore it demon­strat­ing that coal min­ing and thor­ough­bred breed­ing were in­com­pat­i­ble land uses. “If the gov­ern­ment wants to keep Aus­tralia’s premier equine in­dus­try in the Hunter it should not re­new this ex­plo­ration li­cence, act im­me­di­ately to amend the State En­vi­ron­men­tal Plan­ning Pol­icy to pro­hibit any form of min­ing at Dray­ton South and move quickly to pro­tect the en­tire Equine Crit­i­cal In­dus­try Clus­ter,” he said.

Cool­more is home to some of Aus­tralia’s best thor­ough­bred stock and has a key breed­ing pro­gram.

Tulip, a more than $51 long­shot, is owned by Cool­more and was trans­ported to Syd­ney yes­ter­day ahead of the Ever­est.

Cool­more chief Tom Mag­nier said: “Tulip was ac­tu­ally foaled and raised at Cool­more Stud. She is a high-class race filly and the team at Lind­say Park put for­ward a com­pelling case to say that she should take her place.”

Tom Dabernig, who with David and Ben Hayes runs Lind- say Park Rac­ing, said Tulip had a light weight on her side in to­mor­row’s race. “She’s had a fault­less prepa­ra­tion lead­ing into the race,” he said. “Cool­more owns her and bred her. They were the slot hold­ers. It worked out that she had the right sort of form and had been work­ing really well.”

Mr Dabernig’s wife Cassi said the Mag­niers were some of their clos­est friends. “Tulip is par­tic­u­larly close to my heart be­cause of that,” she said.

The Mal­abar coal ad­ver­tise­ment said the com­pany had com­mit­ted to de­vel­op­ing a vastly dif­fer­ent, un­der­ground-only project com­pared with pre­vi­ous pro­pos­als. This meant there was no need for blast­ing, re­duc­ing dust and noise “and any im­pact on equine health or nearby prop­er­ties”. The mine would also “not be vis­i­ble” from horse studs and would “not mine un­der­neath the lo­cal horse studs”, it said.

Mal­abar Coal chief ex­ec­u­tive Wayne Seabrook told ABC ra­dio this week: “We made the an­nounce­ment back in May we’ll be ac­quir­ing the Dray­ton as­sets from An­glo. One of the key things we’re wait­ing for is the re­newal of the ex­plo­ration li­cence at Dray­ton.” He said that writ­ten into the com­pany’s ex­plo­ration li­cence ap­pli­ca­tion was that there was “no in­ten­tion of ever putting open-cut (min­ing) in there”.

Cool­more busi­ness man­ager Paddy Power said: “For over six years the Dray­ton South site has been the sub­ject of var­i­ous mine ap­pli­ca­tions, all of which have been re­fused by the Plan­ning As­sess­ment Com­mis­sion.

“In fact in Fe­bru­ary of this year, the fourth PAC to ex­am­ine the pro­posal found that the ‘the po­ten­tial neg­a­tive im­pacts on equine health and op­er­a­tions to be cred­i­ble and per­sua­sive’. The com­mis­sion found that these im­pacts would likely be detri­men­tal to the op­er­a­tions of Cool­more and Godol­phin with flow-on eco­nomic im­pacts in the lo­cal­ity and within the equine CIC.

“In light of these find­ings, Cool­more, Godol­phin and the HTBA (breed­ers as­so­ci­a­tion) called on the gov­ern­ment to put an end to the un­cer­tainty gen­er­ated by pro­pos­als on this site and amend the SEPP to pre­clude all min­ing on the site.”

He said that was in Fe­bru­ary, but the com­mu­nity had no greater se­cu­rity now than six years ago.

DAVID GERAGHTY

Ever­est run­ner Tulip, bred at the Cool­more stud, with trainer Tom Dabernig’s wife Cassi shortly be­fore leav­ing for Syd­ney for to­mor­row’s race

Amer­i­can Pharoah at Cool­more yes­ter­day

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