By Justin Vallejo
The State Government is investigating claims the once-mighty dunes, made famous by Mad Max III, mined since 1968, are being secretly plundered at far greater depths than allowed to help provide a million tonnes of sand a year – about 50 per cent of the NSW construction industry’s supply of building sand.
Aerial photographs taken by The Daily Telegraph show the full extent of destruction caused by 40 years of mining, with 30m-high dunes gouged into deep stagnant pools, ponds and man-made lakes.
Environmental groups and conservationists now fear a major storm event, combined with sustained mining and rising sea levels, would overwhelm the remaining natural barrier between the Pacific Ocean and Botany Bay – North Cronulla Beach. It is another blow to the 2000 residents of the city’s industrial dumping ground where families live alongside an oil refinery and soon a desalination plant.
The NSW Planning Department held a meeting with Sutherland Shire Council and representatives from Besmaw, the company mining the sand, over allegations they are mining deeper, wider and more sand than allowed.
It has been alleged the last miner remaining at the site, a subsidiary of the Holt Group, is digging deeper than the limit of 12m below sea level and is going as far down as the rock bed – about 20m.
It has also been alleged the resulting holes are being refilled with landfill and construction waste.
Respected environmental campaigner Bob Walshe, from the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre, said it was inevitable the sea would one day break through the peninsula.
He said the State Government would not act because the Holt Group sells the sand at a little under market price to the ailing construction industry.
"The sand that has been taken away has destroyed the natural barrier that created the Kurnell Peninsula," he added.
Nature Conservation Council of NSW executive director Cate Faehrmann said: "It’s at that time now that any further mining and industry will destroy it forever."
The Holt Group did not return The Daily Telegraph’s calls.
Taken from the original article.