Moolarben Coal has received has received conditional approval by the Independent Planning Commission to increase production rates and extend open cut pit boundaries.
Under its existing development approvals, Moolarben Coal can extract 20 million tonnes of run- of-mine (ROM) coal from its open cut operations annually until 2038. The company lodged two modification applications to extend the boundaries of two open cut pits and produce an additional three million tonnes of ROM coal each year.
Also to modify surface infrastructure, including construction of a new water treatment facility.
The Department of Planning & Environment referred the matter to the Commission for determination after receiving more than 25 public objections. They met with the applicant, DPE and Mid-Western Regional Council and held a public meeting in Mudgee in April to listen to the community's views.
Speakers raised concerns about the groundwater modelling undertaken as part of the assessment, salinity impacts on the Goulburn River and Hunter River, and greenhouse gas emissions.
The Commission determined both modification applications should be approved, after finding that the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and salinity impacts resulting from the Modifications are acceptable, subject to the proponent adhering to the conditions of consent.
In its Statement of Reasons for Decision, the IPC noted these conditions "are designed to prevent, minimise and/or offset adverse social and environmental impacts; set standards and performance measures for acceptable environmental performance; require regular monitoring and reporting; and provide for the ongoing environmental management of the development".
The modifications won't change the existing mine fleet or increase the workforce.
- The Commission's Statement of Reasons for Decision can be read in full here.