Bulga residents have accused the government of colluding with Rio Tinto to expand the Mount Thorley Walkworth mine.

Rio Tinto lodged an application on November 12 to expand the mine into Saddle Ridge, the natural barrier between Bulga and the mine.

Previously Rio Tinto planned to expand the Walkworth mine to within 2.6 kilometres of Bugla. After challenges from local group, Bulgra Mibrodale Progress Association, the application was over turned by the NSW Land and Mineral Association and is currently being challenged in the Supreme Court by Rio Tinto and NSW Government.

John Krey, vice president of the BMPA, said that the move is a breach of faith.

“The deed in 2003 and the Land and Environment court says they can’t touch [Saddle Ridge],” he said.

The New South Wales Minerals Council claim the expansion has received over 900 positive submissions.

Mr Krey said claims the positive submissions where the result of a marketing campaign by Rio Tinto and the Minerals Councils.

“You can tell the same lie 900 times but that doesn’t make the truth,” Mr Krey said, “we’re only a small town of 350 people; we don’t have the financial resources to do a campaign that the Minerals Councils and Rio Tinto have. So, yeah, they got a lot of submissions but you’ve got to look at the meat of the submission, and I think if you look at the submissions that said ‘no’ to the mine you’ll find there’s a lot of meat in that.”