Ashton Coal’s proposed mine 'not in public interest', Aussies say

Hunter Valley residents who oppose the expansion of the Ashton South East Open Cast mine in New South Wales, Australia, told a Sydney court on Monday the approval of the multi-million dollar coal mine was not in the public interest.

According to the locals, the expansion of the coal mine near Singleton was initially refused by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC), as the project is said to be likely to cause dust and water pollution within the region, reports The Australian.

However, the body overturned its own previous decision to knock the project back. Now, a group called the Hunter Valley Environment Lobby is making a last ditch appeal to the state's Land and Environment Court.

Barrister Robert White opened the group's case by explaining why coal dust from the mine would threaten the health of locals in the nearby town of Camberwell and how the run off from the mine could contaminate the Hunter Valley's river system.

But the barrister representing the company, Adrian Galasso, told the court the $83 million project would be relatively small and short-lived, and its operators could deal with any environmental concerns.

The case has been compared to the Bulga community's successful appeal against Rio Tinto's Warkworth mine, earlier this year.

Ashton Coal is majority owned by Yancoal Australia (ASX:YAL) whose major shareholder is the Chinese Yanzhou Coal Mining Company (NYSE:YZC).

Image of the Hunter Valley by Jo Schmaltz