Planning Minister Pru Goward has ordered the review of Wollongong Coal’s proposed expansion of Russell Vale coal mine.
It will see Wollongong Coal mine a 400 metre block of longwall 6 at Russell Vale mine which holds 260,000 tonnes of coal.
This will allow mining to continue at the site until December 2015.
Wollongong Coal sought permission to mine the piece of longwall as a make-do measure until its major extension project is processed by the government.
Environmental groups have previously criticised Wollongong Coal’s plans to mine longwall 6, claiming it poses a major threat to the water catchment area.
Goward has asked the PAC to carry out a review of the project and hold public hearings.
The PAC was tasked with assessing the merits of the project as a whole, paying particular attention to upland swamps and water resources (especially Cataract Creek and the stored waters of Cataract Reservoir) resulting from mine subsidence, and residents in the vicinity of the Russell Vale pit top resulting from noise and air emissions and the trucking of product coal.
The public hearings will start in Wollongong early next month, with the PAC calling for anyone wishing to speak to make a submission.
Goward told the PAC the review must be completed by March 20.
Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 after the public hearing, no appeal may be made in respect of any future decision made by the commission in relation to the project.
Wollongong Coal has previously said it will be forced to close to mine unless it is given permission to mine longwall 6.