Public hearings start over Drayton South mine expansion

The NSW Planning Assessment Commission will hear from at least 27 stakeholders today in public hearings over the proposed expansion of Anglo American’s Drayton South mine.

The NSW PAC made its way to Denman today to hear from locals on the future of the expansion of the coal mine, ABC reports.

Anglo American first lodged the application for the thermal coal mine extension in 2011 and local residents have attempted to block the development claiming it will hurt surrounding tourist, thoroughbred, and wine industries.

The Drayton South mine will be a replacement for Drayton mine which is set to close in 2017.

The 500 current employees at Drayton will be automatically employed at the new mine which is adjacent to the existing operation.

However, opposition to the mine has been strong.

The project is just 500 metres from some of the region’s most prized horse studs, prompting breeders to call on the NSW state government to implement buffer zones.

Darley Woodlands stud director Andrew Wiles said the existing Mount Arthur mine located10 kilometres away is tolerable but if Drayton South was approved it would force the stud to consider closing its multimillion-dollar operations in NSW.

‘‘For us it will be one continuous crater from our front doorstep stretching 10 kilometres to the north,’’ he said.

‘‘The prospect is totally confronting and completely incompatible with the amenity that is important for us to attract clients and stakeholders to our commercial proposition.’’

Drayton mine general manager Clarence Robertson said the mine had been in operation for 30 years and Drayton South would offer employees at least another 27 years of work.

“Many people – and their families – were counting on this,” Robertson said.

Earlier this year, workers at the mine launched a petition urging the government to support the expansion of their mine, a move they say will save their jobs.

While Mineral Council of Australia chief Mitch Hooke has taken aim the coal project approval system in Australia, saying the process is in crisis.

Hooke said Anlgo had made around 10 changes to the Drayton South mine to fulfil requirements including assurances it will not access around 35 per cent of the available coal so that there is a sufficient buffer between the mine and nearby race-horse breeders.

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