After spending almost a year visiting Australia’s coal mining communities Sharyn Munro discovered a warzone. She observed what’s really happening at the coalface: towns and districts dying, people hurting, rebelling and ultimately paying the price for the nation’s mining boom.
Munro listened to stories of homeowners being forced out of townships, broken in spirit and in health, or else under threat – their lives in limbo as they battle the might of huge mining companies.
This is what she found.
Sharyn Munro is not anti-mining. She is a writer and grandmother with a social conscience wanting to inform the ordinary Australian of what is happening in rural areas.
And she opposes inappropriate development of any sort, driven by the impact of mining she has watched overwhelm parts of the Hunter Valley.
In her latest book Rich Land, Wasteland, Munro presents an impassioned account of the human price individuals and communities are paying for the coal rush.
“I wrote this book to share with Australians what I experienced and learnt,” Munro said. “Most Australians, I believe, are decent people who would be appalled by what is going on if they knew.”
During her research for the book, Munro discovered that incidences of asthma, cancers and heart attacks show alarming spikes in communities close to coal mines and coal power stations.
Once reliable rivers and aquifers are drying up or becoming polluted. Once fertile agricultural land is becoming
unusable and what was once a rich land is becoming a wasteland.
“I am motivated by concern for the health and futures of my grandchildren who have been living in the coalafflicted
Hunter, and for everyone else’s grandchildren who must breathe such polluted air and who face devastated and dewatered landscapes that will be unusable.”
The large, mostly foreign-owned, mining and gas companies continue to push into new areas and Munro observes that our governments continue to help and protect them at the expense of rural communities.