Rio Tinto and Glencore in stoush over mine expansion plans

A turf war between Rio Tinto and Glencore is playing out in the Hunter Valley as Rio lodges an objection to a mine expansion by its neighbour.

Rio Tinto have lodged an objection with the department of planning over plans by Glencore to extend the life of its Liddell coal mine at Ravensworth.

Liddell Coal Operations want to extend the mine’s life until 2028 a move which will see it produce three million more tonnes of coal.

However Rio subsidiary Coal & Allied own the existing Newdell rail loop which services its Hunter Valley Operations as well as Liddell, and say there is no capacity to accept extra tonnage.

Rio said the proposed modifications breach rail share agreements, stating that there are no terms under which it has to approve a request to haul more of Glencore’s coal.

The original agreement to share the infrastructure was on the basis it was mined from LCO only, but Rio say Glencore plan to move coal through the loop which comes from Mt Owen Mine, a move it “strongly opposes”.

Coal & Allied say if the Newdell rail loop is deemed insufficient, Glencore are able to use the existing Mount Owen loop and “upgrade relevant infrastructure”.

Rio have also taken exception with the environmental assessment by Glencore, claiming it does not contain sufficient information regarding the proposal to process and ship up to 1.4 Mtpa of ROM through its Ravensworth Coal Terminal.

Rio is requesting further detail on the associated impacts increased coal production will have on interactions with trains on the rail line and if a truck haulage contingency plan has been put in place.

The company also claims that blasting from the proposed Liddell extension will have impacts on Coal & Allied owned land including the State heritage listed Chain of Ponds Inn, the Singleton Motorcycle Club track and the Ausgrid power station.

A Glencore spokesperson told Australian Mining that talks with Rio were ongoing, but said further details were not available at this time.

In its submission, Rio said it had met with the LCO last year to discuss its concerns, but says that “no further consultation post December 2012 has been initiated by the LCO and several matters remain outstanding”.

Coal & Allied say the matters need to be resolved before the mine expansion is approved.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.