February 2019
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Mining Map

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The newfashioned mining cities will emerge

New mining cities being planned

New mining cities are still being planned. Bangladesh is studying four sites to place a new coal-mining city in Dinajpur. The government prepared a draft map in 2009, planning an experimental city with 10,000 people. The city will be extended in phases and should include a coal mining university, college, school, community hospital and industrial units.

The area has been selected because of the nearby Barapukuria, Madhyapara Phulbari, Dighipara and Khalashpir coal deposits. The Barapukuria field alone has a 400 million ton reserve, with a forecast 10% to 20% extraction.

The city is planned to service open-pit and underground mines, and UK based Global Coal Management, GCM (previously Asia Energy) has won a contract to develop Phulbari. The proposed development will have up to one GW of coal-fired power generating at the mine mouth and then a possible further three GW.

The Bangladesh government is now trying to build public opinion to allow open-pit extraction. It has already promised to compensate impacted families for loss of land and for subsidence. Subsidence from existing mines has affected more than 300 acres of land, with many houses developing cracks and up to 40,000 people needing re-settling over the 30-plus-year life of the mines.

Many locals continue to resist the project, though, saying open cast mining in particular will destroy local habitats and pollute underground water.

When serving a single mine and a single employer, a major question is who runs the town. The mining company often provides the facilities but local government needs to run it. Roxby Downs was for example built as a joint venture between the South Australia state government and Olympic Dam Project company (Olympic Dam is a nearby copper / uranium / gold / silver mine).

Built in 1987, ODP built the houses and provided their associated utility supplies, while th eSouth Australia state government set up education and recreation buildings. The town houses 4,000 people and has schools, shopping centres, a cinema, swimming pool, community radio, cafes and sporting clubs. Roxby Downs has its own Municipal Council, along with an Administrator who appoints volunteer committees to implement a community plan.

National and local governments need to keep their distance from the mining company - difficult with the company being by definition such a large employer in the region. That means keeping a close eye on conditions and administration - a company having absolute power in its own city is just too open to abuse. There have, for example, been protests that local land owners around Roxby Downs are being pressed by governments and mining companies to lease their land and water rights for nuclear development.

Mines can cause problems just because of their scale, by taking huge amounts of water - already scarce enough in areas of Australia. Mine tailings around Roxby Downs have spilled over lined storage ponds to affect the water table and kill wildlife, and mine workers have allegedly been exposed to unsafe levels of radiation.

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