Health and social harm of coal mining

Photo: Jeremy Buckingham

There is clear evidence from the international health literature that living near coal mines or coal power stations causes serious harm to people's health.

Burning coal is also the single largest cause of global warming, which the world’s leading medical journal, The Lancet, has described as “the biggest health threat of the 21st century”.

The Health and Social Harms of Mining in Local Communities: Spotlight on the Hunter Region report, commissioned by Beyond Zero Emissions, looks at 50 peer-reviewed studies on the health and social impacts of coal mining and combustion on local communities around the world.

It highlights a number of adverse health effects reported from a diverse range of countries. These effects range from excess deaths and increased rates of cancer, heart, lung and kidney disease and birth defects to minor respiratory complaints.

It is likely that many of these impacts – especially those experienced by communities in comparable countries - would also apply in Australia. Yet there are no primary studies addressing the health impacts of coal in Australia.

Against this backdrop there are at least 30 new coal mines and mine expansions planned for the Hunter Valley. An enormous new coal export terminal in Newcastle that would at least double the region’s coal export capacity is on the verge of approval without any health impact assessment being undertaken.

Beyond Zero Emissions hopes this report will play a role in better informing policy debates on this urgent issue.

Download the full Health and Social Harms of Mining in Local Communities: Spotlight on the Hunter Region report here.

Download the report brief here.

(NOTE: If you have trouble downloading the report, please right-click on the link and "save link as" to save the file onto your computer.)