A second review of Springvale mine extension means more uncertainty for stood-down workers

In a blow to workers at Springvale coal mine, Planning Minister Rob Stokes has ordered a second public hearing on plans to extend the mine’s life by 13 years.

The expansion of the mine will now be re-opened for submissions, with a public hearing set for September 3.

The move comes after a PAC review panel approved the extension in June, and just days after the Department of Planning recommended the expansion be approved.

"A public review for the project will be held to ensure a fair opportunity for everyone to comment on the proposal," Stokes said.

Last week, Centennial Coal stood down 300 workers on forced leave at Springvale mine, blaming a lag in the approvals process.

Centennial Coal has released a statement describing the further review as "disappointing and frustrating".

"We did not anticipate this additional step in the state assessment process and indications are this additional PAC Review will add several weeks to the original planned timeframe,” the company said.

Mine manager Jacques le Roux has called on staff to "actively express to government how the stand down and the delays in the approvals process is affecting you, your families and the community".

The expansion would secure 310 full-time jobs and an additional 60 jobs during construction as well as 1,200 indirect jobs across NSW.

Springvale Mine is the only local coal source for the Mt Piper Power Station, which provides 15 per cent of the State’s electricity.

Lithgow Mayor Maree Statham says more jobs than the 300 at Springvale are at stake.

She has described the decision for another public meeting as “ridiculous”.

"It's like you win the lottery and then they say, 'give me back the ticket, I'll have another look'," Statham said.

Meanwhile NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee has accused the NSW government of surrendering “to the whims of minority protest groups”.

“Lithgow’s Springvale coal mine is the latest sad example of how the government has chosen to pander to environmental activist groups rather than save the jobs of working people.” Galilee said

“With coal no longer flowing, the power station is relying on its reserves and when these run out, the station will stop producing energy, which will have a direct impact on power provision not only of Sydney, but right across the state.”

Keith Muir, director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness welcomed a secondary review of the mine expansion.

"The move is a clear indication that the environmental outcomes for this proposal must be significantly improved from where they now stand," Muir said. 

"The discharges of toxic mine effluent must be further cleaned up and all the 29 upland swamps on Newnes Plateau protected. 

"The slash and burn approach of Centennial Coal, the serial polluter and swamp wrecker, is not good enough."

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