On Tuesday 17 September staff from Shenhua Watermark Coal celebrated the annual Moon Festival with over 150 members of the local community, industry stakeholders and local government representatives at a cocktail party held at Quirang Country Gardens in Gunnedah.
Renowned for its moon cakes and displays of brightly lit lanterns the Moon Festival is one of China's most significant cultural events, celebrated every year when the moon is roundest and brightest. The ancient Chinese observed that the movement of the moon had a close relationship with changes of the seasons and agricultural production. Hence, they expressed thanks to the moon and celebrated the harvest. In modern times the event is also celebrated by family and friends coming together to wish good will, longevity and good fortune.
Chairman of Shenhua Australia and Shenhua Watermark Coal, Mr Liu Xiang said it was therefore fitting that Shenhua celebrated the Moon Festival with friends, both old and new.
"As we work towards the fruition of our Watermark Project, Shenhua's goal is not just to operate a mine but to become an important and valued member of the local community. We take our commitments in this regard very seriously, and our success will be measured by not just the economic benefits we can deliver to the region but on the relationships we forge with the local community," Mr Liu said.
Mr Chen Chao, MC for the evening welcomed all the guests and introduced Mr Greg Griffiths for the Welcome to Country.
Gunnedah Shire Council Mayor Owen Hasler acknowledged the commitment from Shenhua staff to working with the community and integrating with the broader Gunnedah multi-cultural society especially the team working with Meals on Wheels and other organisations.
A variety of entertainment was provided on the night with talented local girl, Katrina Burgoyne singing her own composition to the delight of the guests. In keeping with the Chinese theme of the evening Carrie Zeng and Winter Han sang a moving rendition of "The Moon Represents My Heart" and well known local identity Lloyd Angel provided an informative recital of "I Love a Sunburnt Country".
Carrie Zeng and Winter Han entertaining guest with a Chinese recital of the "The Moon
Represents My Heart"
Councillor Col Murray, Mayor of Tamworth Regional Council, stated that the Company had been "quietly and methodically going about its business to achieve a social licence for a coalmine at Watermark".
"We believe that Shenhua has set a new bench mark in the quality and presentation of their EIS and we are hopeful that future mining applications in the region will be of similar quality," Cr Murray said.
Liverpool Plains Shire Council Mayor Ian Lobsey said that the Moon Festival is celebrated when the Moon is at its brightest and roundest and is the symbol for harmony and unity, and we hope that this can be achieved in the coming years when mining and agriculture co-exist.
Cr Lobsey said "that Council was very much aware of the community's concerns about the environment; however, we are convinced that Shenhua has adequately addressed these concerns."
Council and Paul Jackson, Shenhua Project Manager enjoying the festivities
The resounding community and stakeholder response to the Moon Festival celebration will ensure that it will become a significant annual cultural event on both the Shenhua and regional calendar.