Drayton miners devastated at mine extension rejection

Fear, anxiety and uncertainty: that’s how Drayton miners have described their feelings around the government’s decision to reject an expansion of their coal mine.

500 jobs now hang in the balance after the Planning Assessment Commission said the 20 year extension could not go ahead.

The Drayton South expansion was to be a replacement for Anglo American’s Drayton mine which is set to run out of coal in 2017.

The project would have extended the life of the coal mine for 20 years and produced a total of 97 million tonnes of coal.

The decision has left the workers of Drayton, as well as the community of Muswellbrook reeling.

Anglo has asked the Premier to step in and overturn PAC’s ruling, but Mike Baird said he respects the commission’s decision.

Drayton worker Samantha Robinson said the mood around the mine was very sombre as people contemplated their future.

“I think the news is starting to sink in, people are starting to think about what they are going to do, even my daughters have been asking me that,” Samantha Robinson told the Muswellbrook Chronicle.

“People are looking for answers, they are disappointed, they are starting to think how their lives are going to be impacted, I’ve made some good friends here and it’s going to be hard.”

Todd Mills has worked at the mine for 24 years and said he doesn’t like his chances of securing work in the industry during a downturn.

“At 50 years of age and with the mining closures of recent times, I don’t like my job prospects,” Mills said.

He said many people in the town would be forced to relocate in order to gain employment.

Those who service the mine are also worried, with the $70 million a year the mine spends in the region set to disappear.

Gus Mather, manager at Pirtek Muswellbrook, said the rejection has the potential to kill off his business.

“I could be faced with a situation where I’ve got to tell people before Christmas they’re out of a job,” he told 7 News.

Mather said other businesses including hairdressers, butchers and the like would also suffer.

NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee has accused the government of turning its back on the Drayton workforce.

“The government has washed its hands of the decision, and the workers of Drayton,” Galilee said.

“The time has come for the NSW Government to find its spine. Step up for the 500 workers of Drayton to save their jobs. Or at least visit the site and explain to them why their jobs are going.”

The council has set up a petition page that is sending emails in support of Drayton workers to Premier Mike Baird, Minister for Planning Pru Goward, and Minister for Energy and Resources Anthony Roberts.

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