Drayton miners step up fight to save their jobs

Anglo American has penned an open letter to the NSW Premier on behalf of workers at its Drayton mine asking for approval to extend mining operations for the next 30 years.

The move comes after a recent Planning Assessment Commission report into the project recommended it be rejected, finding the expansion would have adverse effects on two nearby horse studs as a result of dust and noise.

A new panel of members will now evaluate the project.

The Drayton South expansion was to be a replacement for Drayton mine which is set to close in 2017.

The 500 current employees at Drayton will be automatically employed at the new mine which is adjacent to the existing operation, however Anglo say all jobs are at risk if the expansion does not gain approval.

“We want to understand why our livelihoods have been disregarded so far in this process and no consideration has been given to the future of our families,” the letter to Barry O’Farrell says.

Drayton mine general manager Clarence Robertson said the mine had been in operation for close to  30 years and Drayton South would offer employees at least another 27 years of work.

“Many people – and their families – were counting on this,” Robertson said.

Anglo first lodged the application for the thermal coal mine extension in 2011 but local residents have attempted to block the development claiming it will hurt surrounding tourist, thoroughbred, and wine industries.

Now workers at the operation are hitting back saying families and local businesses will suffer if the mine closes.

Among those supporting the campaign is second-generation Drayton miner Rod Vaughan.

‘‘Our employees are passionate about Drayton South and will do whatever it takes to show we need this project to support our families and sustain local business,” he said.

The NSW Minerals Council is also on board, urging people to use social media to lobby for the project’s approval.

“The existing operation provides work for 140 local businesses which together benefit from $70 million worth of local procurement each year, which would be lost if the extension isn’t approved,” the council said.

Robertson said Anglo had already responded to consultation with neighbours by changing its mine plan, investing more than $60 million on technical reports and giving up more than $5 billion worth of coal moving the future mine behind natural ridgelines to minimise the visual impact of the operation.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.