Anglo American’s Drayton South project has been given the greenlight by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.
The DPE gave preliminary recommendations that that project be approved by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC).
This is the third time the project has reached this stage, after being rejected twice previously, forcing the mine to change its development plans.
Anglo’s most current proposal will see the company mine 75 million tonnes over 17 years instead of 97 million tonnes over 20 years.
The scaled-back mine plan will also provide a significant buffer between the Coolmoore and Darley horse studs, the company said.
Speaking on this latest round of approvals, Drayton South project director Rick Fairhurst said the recommendation validated the miner’s scientific assessments and reports in its environmental impact statement (EIS).
“The Department’s preliminary recommendation agrees with Anglo American’s detailed and peer reviewed assessments which found the project will have no adverse effects on the health of horses on the Coolmore and Woodlands Studs,” Fairhurst said.
Importantly, for the mine, the DPE approvals found that it would overcome the sticking point of tight air, blasting, and noise criteria related to operating near the studs.
“The Department now considers that the scientific evidence supports a view that the project would not result in adverse impacts on the health of horses residing either permanently or temporarily at the studs,” the DPE report stated.
“It has also found that the project is unlikely to have any significant impacts in the quantity or quality of water used by either of the two studs….consequently the Department has concluded that the project is unlikely to have any significant physical impacts on the studs, and would certainly not affect the physical capability or suitability of the site to be used for horse breeding.
“Anglo American’s changes to the mine plan are wholly consistent with the Commission’s recommendations, and there would be no direct view s off the mining operations from the ‘core operations’ of either of the studs.”
Fairhurst called the decision a win for the company and the 500 strong workforce at Drayton, whose future employment was hanging on the project’s approval.
“We are mindful of the stress ongoing uncertainty around Drayton South puts on our workers, their families, our 140 suppliers and the community, which is overwhelmingly in favour of the project,” he said.
“Given the DPE has recommended the project for approval, we trust the PAC will be guided by its assessment in its deliberations.”