Centennial Coal’s Springvale longwall coal mine extension has been approved.
Environment minister Tony Burke approved the extension of the mine at Lithgow under a number of conditions to ensure environmental protection of the surrounding area.
Springvale’s extension will see it mining three longwall panels, including longwalls 415 to 417.
According to Burke, the mine will have 30 strict conditions placed upon it’s mining activites.
These conditions will ensure the longwall mining in an area of 330 hectares is done in accordance with existing environmental laws.
In granting approvals, Burke stated that his "decision is based on a thorough and rigorous assessment of the proposal taking into account the advice of my department and independent scientific advice.
"While I have considered the social and economic implications of this project, my focus has been on protecting environmental matters of national significance through strict conditions to manage any potential environmental impacts.
"In making this decision I took into consideration advice on monitoring and management arrangements from the new Interim Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Coal Mining."
Burke’s decision was slammed by Greens senator Lee Rhiannon.
"Minister Burke has thumbed his nose at evidence of the threats to the unique Gardens of Stone from long wall mining,” she said. No buffer zones or set of conditions imposed by Minister Burke can protect this unique and sensitive natural environment. This extension should not go ahead.
"Already mining by Springvale Colliery have dried and damaged hanging swamps, caused cracking and subsidence, cliff falls, drained streams and polluted waterways.
"Springvale has a reputation for refusing to address complaints or instigate additional monitoring and the NSW government has been a good friend in letting breaches go unsanctioned.
She went on to claim that her research has shown that in 2010 Springvale was the worst mine in the state in regards to compliance, with 833 incidents of non-compliance since 2000.
"This wondrous natural environment should be preserved not corrupted by Minister Burke growing mining operations there."
The extensions will run under the Sunnyside East Swamp and Garne West Swamp.
This was dismissed Rhiannon’s claims of damage to the swamps as no mining is likely to occur in the area unless damage is minimised.
"The Committee supported the condition for no mining under high quality swamps, or within buffer zones, unless the proponent can demonstrate that there is a way of conducting the longwall mining with no adverse impact to the swamps," Burke explained.
Part of the conditions includes detecting any potential impacts of the mine for a period of at least 10 years post-mining.
The announcement was welcomed by Lithgow mayor Neville Castle, according to the ABC.
Castle explained that the city would have suffered if approvals weren’t granted.
Outside of coal mining and the power generation that probably takes up more than 50 per cent of our economy, or probably closer to 70 pre cent of our economy," he said.
"So we have also all the other businesses that somehow are affected by that in flow on effects and so a major business and so we’re glad to see it keep going."
Centennial Coal were unavailable for comment.
Image: Western Advocate.