AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES MASSIVE COAL MINE IN NEW SOUTH WALES
Australia's federal Department of Environment gave its approval for Chinese mining firm Shenhua's Watermark coal mine in New South Wales' Liverpool Plains. The approval means the mine will likely get all government permits necessary for mining to commence, but politicians and local residents opposed to the mine's development have vowed to continue fighting to halt the project. The Liverpool Plains region is one of Australia's most agriculturally productive, which has farmers concerned about the effects mining may have on the region's aquifers. Opponents hope federal water laws may yet be triggered to block the mine. Meanwhile, Environmental Minister Greg Hunt downplayed concerns, claiming the department's approval was qualified by 18 strict environmental protection conditions. For the full story, see http://www.smh.com.au/environment/water-issues/battlelines-drawn-as-rich-liverpool-plains-put-on-the-coalmining-map-20150710-gi7u6w.html.