Approval has been granted for an extension to the Mt Arthur coal mine, which will extend the mine life to 2026.
The project modification will see an additional 128 million tonnes of coal extracted from the south west section of the Hunter Valley mine location.
The mines production rate will be kept to the existing 32 million tonnes per year.
At present the total disturbance of the area is approximately 6400 hectares, which will be increased by 260 hectares.
The equipment fleet will increase from 193 to 291 vehicles, and blasting approvals will change from 2 blasts per day and a maximum of 12 per week, to 3 per day and a maximum of 12 per week averaged over 12 months.
Blasting will be allowed four times a day on 12 days per year.
Blasting will now be able to commence at 8am, whereas blasting was previously prevented before 9am.
The restriction to size of blast has also been removed.
The changes to blasting have been approved by the Planning Assessment Commission to ensure mine operator BHP Billiton can take advantage of favourable weather conditions, and reduce impacts on local residents.
Blasting has been a key concern for community members of Muswellbrook, with 153 complaints registered between 2007 and 201, however only three exceedances of conditions were recorded.
Mt Arthur coal will now be required to inform the public of their blasting schedules through the Muswellbrook council online portal.
In July the mine was fined $3000 for failure to comply with air quality conditions, due to dumping of overburden at an elevated level in windy conditions.
Mt Arthur has also had several instances earlier this year when blasting of water-contaminated explosives resulted in toxic chemical plumes floating over the nearby industrial estate.