Rich Land, Wasteland
How Coal is Killing Australia
Published by Macmillan
2012, 464pp, ISBN 9781742610993, paperback
For nearly a year Sharyn Munro travelled through rural Australia, visiting the communities in coal-mining areas. She found a war zone. Here, literally at the coal-face, towns and districts are dying – homeowners and farmers forced out by mining, broken in spirit and in health, or else under threat, their lives and properties in limbo as they battle the might of huge mining companies developing ever larger mines and prospecting ever more widely for new coal deposits or coal seam gas.
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. What was once a rich land is becoming a wasteland. But the big, mostly foreign-owned, mining companies continue to push on with their ever expanding coal rush and government continues to help and protect them at the expense of rural communities. Ever more mining licences are being granted, ever bigger mines are being opened.
Sharyn Munro exposes the real story of coal in this life-changing book: how people are hurting, and rebelling, as coal pushes into hithero unthinkable areas; how the true costs really stack up against the benefits of our mining boom; and what's really happening to those individuals and communities who are ultimately paying the price.
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