Mothballed Dartbrook coal mine in NSW can restart operations
The mothballed Dartbrook coal mine in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia can restart operations, the state’s Independent Planning Commission ruled on Friday.
The mine was placed on care and maintenance in late 2006 because of operational difficulties and lower coal prices.
Dartbrook was owned by Anglo American until the miner sold its 83.33% interest to Australian Pacific Coal for A$50 million ($36 million) in 2015.
AQC Dartbrook Management Pty has an existing approval to extract up to six million tonnes of run-of-mine (ROM) coal annually from Dartbook using longwall methods until 2022.
The company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Australian Pacific Coal, lodged a modification application to allow bord and pillar mining within the Kayuga Seam; an alternative coal clearance system for transporting ROM coal from the underground mine operation to the existing coal handling and preparation plant, and a five-year extension to the current approval which ends in December 2022.
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment referred the matter to the Commission for determination in January 2019 amid strong opposition from Upper Hunter Shire Council and the local community.
The Department of Planning held a public meeting to hear the community’s concerns, including air, noise, visual and water impacts; greenhouse gas emissions and climate change; rehabilitation requirements; impacts on the local equine industry; and the cost benefit and viability of the project.
“Partial approval of the application is acceptable because mining operations have been approved until 2022 and bord and pillar mining has been acknowledged by the Proponent and Department as a less intensive and environmentally-impacting activity than longwall mining,” the Planning Commission said in a press release Friday.
The five-year extension was refused, as the Commission found it “not be in accordance with the principles of ecologically sustainable development or inter-generational equity; and, as such, is not in the public interest.”