Wal­larah 2 project green lit

The Australian Mining Review - - NEWS - EL­IZ­A­BETH FABRI NSW

THE con­tro­ver­sial Wal­larah 2 un­der­ground coal mine has the tick of ap­proval from the NSW Gov­ern­ment to be­gin de­vel­op­ment.

In mid-Jan­uary, the NSW Plan­ning As­sess­ment Com­mis­sion (PAC) de­clared the Wy­ong Ar­eas Coal JV project on the Cen­tral Coast “in the pub­lic in­ter­est” and granted con­sent for it to pro­duce up to 5 mil­lion tonnes of run of mine (ROM) ther­mal coal a year for 25 years, sub­ject to con­di­tions.

“The Com­mis­sion heard and ac­knowl­edged strong calls for it to take a pre­cau­tion­ary ap­proach given the po­ten­tial for im­pacts to the Cen­tral Coast’s drink­ing wa­ter sup­ply catch­ment,” PAC stated.

“The is­sue has been as­sessed in de­tail. Im­pacts were as­sessed to be small and ac­cept­able, with no net im­pact on the avail­abil­ity of wa­ter for the Cen­tral Coast drink­ing wa­ter sup­ply catch­ment dur­ing the life of the mine.

“Im­pacts and po­ten­tial risks can be ap­pro­pri­ately man­aged through the frame­work of rig­or­ous con­trols and re­quire­ments in place to man­age, mit­i­gate, min­imise, com­pen­sate and off­set those im­pacts.”

The Wal­larah 2 mine has been on the draw­ing board for some time; the first ap­pli­ca­tion was lodged in 2006, which was re­fused in March 2011 by the then Min­is­ter for Plan­ning.

In late 2012, a new ap­pli­ca­tion was lodged and sub­ject to a PAC re­view in 2014.

How­ever a dis­pute over land ac­cess with the Dark­in­jung LaLC led to the lodge­ment of an amend­ment de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion in July 2016.

PAC said the project, once de­vel­oped, would cre­ate up to 300 op­er­a­tional jobs, 450 con­struc­tion jobs, and sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment for the lo­cal area and roy­al­ties for the State.

Wy­ong Coal gen­eral man­ager Pe­ter Al­lonby told S&P Global Platts he an­tic­i­pated con­struc­tion to start next year, with coal de­vel­op­ment be­gin­ning in 2021, and long­wall pro­duc­tion in 2022.

“The project will now move to the next stage of eval­u­at­ing the ap­proval de­tails, scop­ing ad­di­tional ap­proval and li­cens­ing re­quire­ments, de­tailed de­sign work and com­plet­ing a fi­nal fea­si­bil­ity study,” Mr Al­lonby said.

The Aus­tralian Coal Al­liance said it had com­menced a le­gal chal­lenge against the PAC’s de­ci­sion to ap­prove the mine.

In late Jan­uary more than 200 peo­ple met in Ourim­bah to back the Aus­tralian Coal Al­liance’s cam­paign to block the project from go­ing ahead.

Wal­larah 2 said it will hold com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tions on the last Wed­nes­day of ev­ery month, be­gin­ning in Feb­ru­ary.

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