Anglo American Hunter Valley coal mine expansion suffers another setback

Image: Anglo American

Anglo American’s expansion plan for the Drayton South coal operation in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales has again been rejected.

The Planning Assessment Commission’s (PAC) decision, which is the fourth rejection of a proposed expansion in the past six years, was based on the risks the project would pose to the environment.

According to the PAC, the risks related to air quality, noise, and the negative economic and social impacts the development would have in the region.

Anglo American was seeking to develop a 6.4 million tonne per annum coal mine, with a 15-year life of mine. If approved, the mine was expected to employ up to 500 workers, as well as deliver 984 indirect positions.

“The commission recognises that the mining industry delivers significant economic benefits in its own right and flow-on benefits to a number of associated industries,” the PAC stated.

“However, the project is not unique or the primary contributor to the wider coal industry in the Hunter Valley.”

A key concern of the proposed expansion for the PAC was the project’s proximity to the boundary of properties owned by the Coolmore and Godolphin thoroughbred horse operations.

“Both Coolmore and Godolphin are globally renowned thoroughbred operators and are, most importantly, recognised as central to the development and international success of the Hunter Valley equine critical industry cluster,” the PAC outlined.

“The commission considers that a unique set of circumstances does exist due to the proximity between the project and the thoroughbred operations of Coolmore and Godolphin.”

Anglo American was hoping to develop the Drayton South operation to extend the life of the existing Drayton mine, which has been producing coal for more than 30 years and will soon run out of mineable coal reserves.

The company’s expansion plans were approved by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment in September last year, paving the way for the PAC to make its assessment.