MINING companies interested in extracting coal seam gas (CSG) from the Clarence Valley area may have a tough fight on their hands, with local anti-CSG mining groups likely to form into a united front this weekend.
Clarence Valley Against Coal Seam Gas Mining group, members of the Clarence Environment Centre, the Clarence Conservation group along with other groups and community members will meet tomorrow at the Clarence Environment Centre with the goal of considering a co-operative arrangement in opposing future CSG mining activities in the area.
CSG mining has drawn strong opposition from various groups concerned the mining process known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" - which involves chemi- cals being pumped underground to extract the gas - could permanently contaminate underground water bodies.
Clarence Valley Against CSG Mining representative Seanine Cooper said the Clarence Valley area, which sits on a rich deposit of CSG as part of the Clarence-Moreton Basin, was being targeted by mining companies, including Metgasco and Red Sky Energy.
Mining projects have been proposed in areas such as Whiporie, Tullymorgan and Copmanhurst.
Ms Cooper, one of the organisers of tomorrow's meeting, said this could prove disastrous for the Valley and said she believed a strong, united front was needed to oppose future mining operations rather than a number of different groups working independently.
"What I'd like to do is form a Valley-wide alliance against CSG, so it's bringing together every single group and every single interested party to form a succinct group so we can fight it together," Ms Cooper said.
"It's a better position because you've got more ammunition, more people, more skills and more contacts, so if everyone knows what everyone else is doing it can definitely boost the effort."
Meanwhile, CSG mining companies and advocates believe the concerns of anti-CSG groups are unfounded and maintain the extraction process is safe. The website for the pro-CSG campaign We Want CSG (wewantcsg.com.au), states in its Facts about CSG mining section that: "Hydraulic fracturing is a well-established, tightly regulated technology that has been used safely around the world for more than 60 years."
Despite these reassurances, Ms Cooper said CSG mining was too much of a gamble, particularly when water supplies were at stake.
"This is our water; it's just too big a risk to take and once it's done it's too late. Once the water is contaminated, it's irreversible," Ms Cooper said.
"So we're not going to back down. We'll be doing whatever it takes to defend the environment for our kids."
The meeting will be held at the Clarence Environment Centre inside the South Grafton Emporium in Skinner St from 1.30pm tomorrow. Ms Cooper said anyone interested in the issue was welcome, particularly representatives from local groups interested in joining the alliance.
For more information about the meeting, email Ms Cooper on sea firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Clarence Valley Against Coal Seam Gas Mining group Facebook page.