Horses and Coal Mines Don't Mix Well in Australia's Thoroughbred Nursery Region

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The Australian Broadcast Corporation (ABC) is reporting today that environmental conditions in the Hunter Valley, Australia's premier Thoroughbred breeding region, may necessitate the relocation of major horse farms there.

The Hunter Valley in the state of New South Wales in eastern Australia is an idyllic patchwork of horse farms and vineyards. But horse farm managers say the rapid proliferation of coal mines nearby is putting their industry at risk; they are worried about pollution, water access and land use.

Delegates from the Upper Hunter's wine and horse industries have met to discuss their concerns and say some breeders will consider moving their operations. It is more difficult for wineries to literally "pull up roots" and move.

Horse farm representatives say that the horses suffer the dust created by the mines. The horse industry in the region, which is about three hours from Sydney, employs a great number of people and stimulates the economy.

A few years ago, a friend gave me a ride to the airport when I was staying in Scone, which would be like Australia's equivalent of our Ocala, Florida. Once we left the beautiful valley, we drove several hours to the airport in Tamworth and I remember driving past endless mines and grassed over hills that had been former mine sites. Undoubtedly oil supply concerns have stimulated interest in increasing coal production.

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