The final public hearings for the Warkworth mine extension are expected to see strong opposition from the Save Bulga.
Starting today at Singleton, the Planning and Assessment Commission public hearing has received 122 registrations to speak and will take place over two days.
Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association spokesperson John Krey said the new round of public hearings was testament to the strength of community outrage about the mine expansion, but he was cynical about whether the planning process could be objective.
“The Baird government has promised to review the State Environmental Planning Policy for mining by September, but this will be too late for our town which will devastated if this PAC gives the mine expansion the green light,” he said.
“There is immediate action the NSW government can take to prevent this mine expansion from getting development consent, for example by listing it in a schedule to the Mining SEPP.
“New planning Minister Rob Stokes claims he wants to give community and the environment more equal billing in planning, but for five years Rio Tinto has worked hand-in-glove with government to push this mine expansion through at the community’s expense.
Krey said the idea of co-existence between Rio Tinto’s mine expansion and the Bulga community was a furphy.
In March this year the PAC announced its recommendation for approval of the mine extension, after five years of lobbying by Rio Tinto.
Last year Rio Tinto Coal and Allied were forced to resubmit plans for the expansion after the Supreme Court upheld a Land and Environment Court decision not to approve due to unacceptable noise and dust problems for the residents of Bulga.
Current planning approvals mean the mine can only sustain existing production and employment levels until the end of 2015.