A number of Anglo American’s Drayton mine employees have launched a petition urging the New South Wales Government to speed up approvals for the Drayton South project.
The move comes after state planning minister Brad Hazzard in May announced the replacement mine’s project assessment would be suspended.
Currently the original Drayton mine employs 500 people; the company said the decision to extend the process has created heightened uncertainty amongst workers.
In particular employees are nervous about future employment prosects, the company said.
Drayton mine has been in operation for 30 years, and the new proposal would offer at least another 27 years of employment, Drayton mine General Manager Clarence Robertson said.
“Many people – and their families – were counting on this,” Robertson said.
“Employees have now personally written to their local Member of Parliament, George Souris, requesting his help and a petition is being passed around the workforce, contractors and suppliers.”
One employee involved in the petition is mining supervisor for drill and blast, Ben Lewis who has worked on site for 11 years working up the ranks from operator to supervisor.
“It’s our lives that are being played with. My family and I have a home here, we have a life here, and if that was taken away from me it would gut me,” he said.
In response to the government’s announcement the company said it has followed due process, completed stakeholder consultation and addressed its environmental responsibilities.
“Since 2009 we have met with the horse studs repeatedly and amended our mine plan in response to their feedback,” Robertson said.
“We have been working towards having Drayton South approved by the end of this year so we can transition from one operation to the next when Drayton closes in 2015 and begins rehabilitation works.
“The Minister’s decision to defer the PAC process has placed considerable pressure on the already tight timeframes for developing this project.”
Anglo American lodged the application for the thermal coal mine extension in 2011 and local residents have attempted to block the development claiming it will hurt surrounding tourist, thoroughbred, and wine industries.