Krey vs Rio Tinto: a community struggle against coal expansion

This article was originally published in the April 2014 issue of New Internationalist.

John Krey moved to the village of Bulga in New South Wales expecting a quiet retirement. The 73-year-old did not expect to be taking up another full-time job: fighting mining giant Rio Tinto. For the last four years, Krey, with fellow-members of the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association (BMPA), has worked to stop the expansion of the Warkworth open-cut coal mine to within 2.6 kilometres of his community.

‘It’s a David and Goliath battle and we’re determined to beat the buggers,’ says Krey, a former quantity surveyor. ‘The history of open-cut mines in our area is that it destroys villages.’

In April 2013, the BMPA won a legal challenge against a previously approved expansion of the mine. In the ruling, the judge highlighted the project’s ‘significant adverse impact on biological diversity’, as well as negative social effects and noise and dust pollution. However, soon after, the New South Wales government proposed policy changes, which gave economic benefits a higher priority. Rio Tinto reapplied for expansion and it was granted by the Planning Commission in January 2014.

‘The Planning Department has worked hand-in-glove with Rio Tinto to ensure this project was fast-tracked to approval,’ said Steve Phillips in a press release for the Lock The Gate Alliance, an Australia-wide movement that fights coal and gas expansion.

The mine’s expansion should be global concern – Greenpeace predicts that Australia’s coal exports will account for 1,200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution each year by 2025.

The Supreme Court is now considering the case and, at the time of going to press, was expected to give its decision in March 2014.

Meanwhile, the BMPA has also taken its case to the Independent Commission Against Corruption and is not ruling out direct action. Activists from elsewhere have said they are prepared to ‘stand in front of the bulldozers,’ says Krey.

Teenagersintokyo // Sacrifice

First appeared on Never Enough Notes on May 22 2010

Released on 24.05.10 on Back Yard Recordings

Although most of the band met ten years ago, in high school, it’s taken them until now to release their first full album. Hyped since their self titled EP in 2008, this trendy electro outfit hail from Australia, but since being signed to a UK label have relocated to our shores.

Packed full of energy, “Sacrifice” is a prime example of the UK’s rapidly expanding indie electro scene, simmering with brooding attitude. Recorded in the depths of the Welsh countryside, it is easy to imagine some angry storms and dark drizzle going on while these tracks were penned.

The industry is all over female-fronted electro-pop at the moment, but Teenagersintokyo have a retro edge to their sound, similar to the new wave bands that came out of America in the 1970s, although tracks like “Long Walk Home” have a catchy 60s girl group vibe.

“Sacrifice” gets off to a sleepy start with “3046”, which could throw the less keen beans off the scent, but it is worth sticking through to “Robocat” which is more of a grabber and sets the tone for the rest of the album, full of angst with a strong beat, as is the single “End It Tonight”.

The band recorded with David Kosten, who has produced Bat For Lashes, and his stamp can definitely be heard on the album; the music is achingly cool. The band would be worth checking out live though if they manage to blow away any pretence and stuffiness but the mechanical sound is hard to escape on the recording; the drum machine sounding beats and perfectly formulated songs don’t have have that raw edginess that can be possible with this type of music. It just doesn’t sound dirty enough.