The Mt Thorley Warkworth coal mines extension has been approved by the independent Planning and Assessment (PAC) Commission, ensuring ongoing employment for 1300 people.
Reaching a decision today, the PAC has recommended the Commission approve the proposal subject to a range of strengthened conditions.
Conditions include an $11 million contribution to the Singleton community for enhancement projects focussing on the Bulga village, 2900 hectares of biodiversity offset land, and establishment of 1600 acres of woodland on site upon completion of mining.
Rio Tinto will also be expected to lodge a bond of $1 million to ensure successful regeneration of the Warkworth Sands Woodlands.
A spokesperson for the PAC said: “The Department’s assessment found that through the implementation of strict conditions the impacts of the project can be effectively managed, including in Bulga village.”
“The Department also concluded that the project would result in a range of broad economic benefits for the region, including ongoing employment for the 1,300 people that work at the mine.”
Bulga village residents were angered by the decision, which will bring the mine to within 2.6km of the town.
Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association president John Krey said Rio Tinto and NSW Planning had “worked closely together” to ensure the project went ahead “by hook or by crook”.
“Today’s decision is pure madness. We remained determined to ensure this mine expansion is thrown on history’s scrap heap – where it belongs,” he said.
NSW coordinator for Lock the Gate Alliance Georgina Woods said planning laws were failing the people of NSW.
“The Department of Planning is repeating the fiction that this expansion is needed to secure jobs. We know that’s not the case,” she said.
“There’s plenty of coal available in Rio Tinto’s existing mining approvals, and a series of recent ticks for mines have failed to deliver jobs security in the region.”