Hunter Enviro Mining is looking for state government approval to extend its licence for four years to clear nearly three million tonnes of coal waste.
The company was approved to clear coal chitter and tailings from sites at Neath, Aberdare East and Richmond Main East in September 2006.
The Richmond Main trial job was finished but Aberdare East had almost a year to run before Neath could begin, Newcastle Herald reported.
General manager Brian Bannister said the company needed four more years because the previous approval expired last month.
He said the coal was transported by truck to the previous Hebburn No.2 colliery where saleable coal fines were separated at a washery and the residual waste was pumped into the unused mine shaft.
The coal was sold through an agent as trimming coal for mixing into larger cargoes. It sold for a lower price than the usual Newcastle spot price of about $90 a tonne.
Kurri Kurri’s Col Maybury is happy with the progress on the tailing sites but was apprehensive about pumping acidic waste into the old mine.
He is concerned the acidic waste pumped into Hebburn No.2 was seeping through around 15 kilometres of linked mine shafts and surfacing at Testers Hollow, south of Maitland.
From there, he said ‘about a swimming pool a month’ of acidic red mine water flowed via Wallis Creek and into the Hunter River at East Maitland.
But Barrister defended his operation, saying the coal seams were leaning the wrong way for the water to be coming from Hebburn No.2.
Maybury said the acid mine water was an issue no matter where it came from.