Hunter coal mine given longwall change approval

 Yancoal’s Austar coal mine near Cessnock has received state approval to change its longwall.

However it still requires approval from the minister for environment as these changes will now see the mine run under the Werakata State Conservation Area and near the Aberdare State Forest, the ABC reports.

The mine has already seen opposition from local landowners, as the new longwall will now run underneath a number of properties and owners believe it will devalue their land.

Austar came under fire late last year after pollution was found to be leaking from the site into a nearby creek.

It was fined more than $115 000, and ordered to pay $75 000 towards an environmental rehabilitation project and around $42 000 in legal costs.

According to the chief environmental regulator for the EPA, Mark Gifford, the "fine reflected to need for companies such as Austar to take every precaution to ensure that pollution doesn’t occur".

The original incident occurred in July, when wastewater from an onsite septic tank leaked into the Bellbird Creek, near Cessnock.

"The wastewater contained detergent and effluent from bathhouse facilities located on the Austar site and caused large clumps of white foam up to 2 metres high to be washed downstream," Gifford explained

"The elevated levels of detergent, nutrients and faecal matter along approximately 2km of Bellbird Creek were toxic to aquatic life.

"This incident could have been prevented if Austar had an appropriate system in place to inspect, monitor and maintain the 90 year old onsite septic system," he added.

The Austar mine was the first longwall top caving coal mine to be designed and operated outside of China.

 

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