Wyong Councillors have again rejected Centennial Coal’s application for an access agreement to Council owned land at the waste disposal site at Buttonderry.
The miner’s submission to the council requested an access agreement to drill exploration boreholes on Council owned land.
The exploration boreholes are part of an exploration drilling program south of Centennial’s Mandalong Mine, an established underground coal mine operating in the Mandalong Valley near Morisset.
Wyong Council claims there is a risk to the tip’s infrastructure, such as breaking a sediment point, is making it reluctant to give approval.
Centennial Coal’s Katie Brassil told Australian Mining that the company has been attempting to negotiate an access agreement since October last year but in this instance the landholder – the council – has not cooperated.
“Our preference is always to negotiate an access agreement but in the event that it is not possible, the Act regulating this process provides a way forward,” she said.
“We have an exploration license for the area in which we are conducting this drilling program and have completed the appropriate environmental studies.
“Five of the 53 boreholes in our exploration drilling program are in and around Council’s water disposal facility.
“In October last year we made a submission to council with respect to gaining access to their site.
“At a November council meeting, councillors rejected a report which recommended the General Manager be given authority to negotiate and execute an access agreement with Centennial.
“As a result of councillors refusing to negotiate an access agreement we were then required to use the provisions under the Act to progress the issue further.
“In February we advised council we would be progressing the issue using the provisions under the Mining Act.
Local media reported that a council report by seniors said if the results of the exploration drilling program were positive, the primary impact from future underground longwall mining was surface subsidence, but th threat could be removed by relocating the borehole to the north of the sediment pond.
Brassil said the councillor who successfully moved that the process be halted until after the state election, Su Wynn, was misinformed.
“This is a huge mine that abutts the former Wallarah 2 proposal and poses a huge environmental risk,” the councillor said.
“If the sediment ponds were to be damaged we would have enormous leaching problems and our water supply would suffer.
“Not only that but ratepayers would have to fund the cost of repairs.”
Brassil told Australian Mining she believes there seems to be a misunderstanding of the difference between an exploration drilling program and a mining proposal.
“The objectives of an exploration drilling program is to locate the coal seam, ascertain the quantity and quality of the resource and to determine if there is an economically viable and recoverable resources.
“The issue is being raised by council would be addressed at the time a mine was proposed and would be addressed within the rigours of the environmental assessment process.
“We will continue to communicate openly with council as we meticulously move through the process provided to us under the Act to ensure we conclude our drilling on schedule.
“Council’s decision will not impact our progress.”
Earlier this month, the Department of Planning rejected a coal mine proposal north of Wyong, due to ecological and heritage impacts.
Image: NSW Minerals Council