A majority of Mudgee businesses have backed plans by Moolarben Coal to extend its mining operations by 180 hectares, extending the life of the mine to 2033.
Earlier this month the NSW Department of Planning received 178 submissions regarding the company’s plans to modify stage one of the project.
Mudgee Guardian reported of the 178 submissions, local business in the area accounted for 13 per cent, with the majority in support of the project.
“Moolarben not only directly supports companies such as ours but considerably boosts the economy of the Mid-Western Regional Council district and the surrounding areas through employment and community sponsorship in education, health and safety, sports groups, the environment and the arts,” said Double R’s Ian Russell.
“Infrastructure is improved in regional and remote areas and Moolarben is a major source of employment through direct hiring.”
Mine employees and individuals who believe the operation benefits the local community also made positive submissions.
Moolarben Coal mine manager, Bruce Birchall, said the extension of the mining limit was “logical and permits safer and more ethical recovery of the resource”.
The company is seeking to increase the amount of coal it can extract from 8 mtpa to 10 mtpa by open cut mining, and an increase in total production from 10 mtpa to 12 mtpa from both open cit and underground mining.
“It is often disappointing to see coal left behind in adjacent areas where mine disturbs,” Birchall said.
“The Moolarben seam of up to 13 metres yields a significant amount of coal for the surface area that is disturbed.
“The land to be disturbed in question is of low fertility hill country.
“I would much prefer to see resources fully exploited in these type of areas in lieu of prematurely looking at mining fertile farmlands,” he said in his supporting submission.
”I have grown up in Mudgee, lived there most of life and worked in the mining industry both locally and overseas since leaving school.
“I have seen the benefits mining brings to economies and communities, and also seen the other side where communities struggle due to lack of economic activity.
“Life in general is all about making the right trade offs, the benefits of good responsible mining to; standards of living, economies and communities far outweigh the sacrifices required. The improved mine plan also replaces a more hazardous layout and recovers coal that would otherwise be sterilised, this is a win/win outcome.”
However the project has also received consistent opposition with 50 submissions objecting the expansion.
Mid-Western Regional Council has explained issues around with biodiversity offsets, payment for Ulan Road upgrades and noise were a problem.
While The Nature Conservation Council said the expansion would have major cumulative impacts on the surrounding environment.