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New mining campaign not convincing for Hunter Valley vineyards

The Hunter Valley Wine Industry is becoming increasingly concerned about the acquisition of  vineyards by coal companies, in light of a recent advertising campaign.

The campaign which was commissioned by the NSW Minerals Council features local wine producer, Bob Kennedy on his Broke Vineyard with Xstrata’s Bugla underground coal mine 300 metres below his property, ABC Rural reports.

The campaign is designed to inform growers and the wider community that the mining and agriculture sectors can co-exist.

NSW Mining states that the mining industry has a relatively small footprint across the state at approximately 0.1 percent of the state's land – a small proportion when compared with agriculture which currently holds around 75 percent.

However many growers in the region have their reservations.

Brett Keeping, president of the Upper Hunter winemakers association is worried that the continuation of such sales to the coal industry could affect the collective power of vineyards in the region.

"I've seen some of those campaigns," said Keeping.

"I don't believe they are a representation of what's happening, and we've co-existed for many years up here.

"Our issue now is the balance has been thrown out and it’s becoming very difficult to co-exist."

There are currently a number of vineyard purchases being finalised by mining companies including Malabar Coal’s Cruickshank winery at Denham, and Hollydene Estate is believed to be in negotiations with Anglo American Coal.

Keeping is concerned that mining investments in the area could damage tourism appeal and the credibility of the region.

"Our industry relies on critical mass and once you start taking players out of a particular region you dilute the tourism appeal, you dilute the strength of the area as a credible region and it's certainly not good for us," he said.

"We can't sort of gloss over this and say that it's not a problem, it is a problem."

 

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