Anglo American says PAC’s rejection of the Drayton South mine comes as a “shattering blow” to the local community of Muswellbrook.
PAC today rejected the Drayton South extension project in order to protect the nearby Coolmore and Darley thoroughbred studs.
The project would have extended the life of the coal mine for 20 years and produced a total of 97 million tonnes of coal.
However PAC said the project had the potential to adversely impact the internationally renowned studs, and has recommended the mine be refused.
“The project has not demonstrated that it will not adversely impact on equine health and the operations of the Coolmore and Darley horse studs,” PAC said.
“The economic benefits of the project do not outweigh the risk of losing Coolmore and Darley and the potential demise of the equine industry in the area with flow‐on impacts on the viticultural tourism industries.”
PAC also said the project was not in the public interest.
The CEO of Anglo’s coal business Seamus French has slammed PAC’s decision.
The company has previously stated that the jobs of its workers rested on securing approval for to extend the mine’s life.
“This has gutted our 500 strong workforce and their families. The PAC’s decision will have serious detrimental implications for the Hunter Valley and for NSW,” French said.
“It is devastating for our employees, it is devastating for our suppliers, it is devastating for the local community and it is devastating for the people of NSW who would have benefited from the annual $35 million in State Government Royalties from the project.”
French said the PAC determination flew in the face of the NSW Planning and Environment Department’s report which stated the project was in the public interest.
“The government’s own experts have been overruled by an eight week exercise,” French said.
“The current planning process, which deals with perception above scientific fact, is damaging communities and threatening NSW’s investment potential. This process, through which decision making is delegated to a small group of representatives rather than the elected government, is a serious concern.”
A previous PAC also ruled against the proposed mine and since then, Anlgo submitted a new mine plan which it said made a number of important compromises so it could co-exist with the horse breeders.
The new plan meant the mine would sit behind the natural landscape, reduce its operating life from 27 down to 20 years, and cut tonnage from 119 million down to 97 million over the life of the mine.
“All the compromise and commitment to coexistence has been ignored in this process. The PAC’s decision will wipe an annual $35 million from State Government Royalties and will have a dire impact on local communities, with the $70 million we spend a year with local businesses taken away,” French said.
He also said he was disappointed with the way the process was handled after news of the rejection broke in the media before Anglo had a chance to talk to its workforce.
“How would you like to hear on the radio on your way to work that you don’t have a job?”
French said Anglo would provide support to its employees and work through what the refusal means to for them.
He also said the company would work through PAC’s report to understand its implications and consider available options moving forward.