The New South Wales Government has approved SIMEC Mining’s expansion plan for the Tahmoor coal mine which will see an 33 million tonnes mined over an additional 10-year mine life.
The Tahmoor coal mine is operated by SIMEC subsidiary Tahmoor Coal.
Following an assessment from the state Department of Planning, Industry & Environment, as well as the Independent Planning Commission, the mine can now take advantage of 12 new longwall panels to the south of its current operations.
Commissioners Richard Mackay and Chris Fell said the application concerns were outweighed by the many benefits presented in the development.
A three-day public hearing unveiled community concerns such as groundwater and surface water impacts; air quality; biodiversity; human health; Aboriginal cultural heritage; visual amenity; mine closure and rehabilitation; greenhouse gas emissions; and the economic modelling used to assess the project.
Favourable points included economic benefits to employees, suppliers, local business and the broader Australian community.
“The commission agrees with the department’s findings… that the proposed extension of the existing Tahmoor coal mine is strategically justified and is in the public interest, and that the identified impacts can be appropriately managed through the conditions of consent imposed,” the commission stated.
The fact that Tahmoor coal mine already existed played a part in the decision, according to the commission.
“(There are) significant environmental, social and economic benefits arising from extending the life of an existing mine that has established infrastructure and an existing environmental footprint, rather than developing a completely new mine,” the commission stated.
The coal produced from the Tahmoor extension project will be at least 90 per cent metallurgical or coking coal, with the remainder being thermal coal.
Tahmoor’s coal is used in Australian, European and Asian steel making markets.
The mine had previously used bord and pillar mining until 1987, when it switched to long wall mining.
There will be 168 conditions on the development’s consent which look to diminish the mine’s environmental impacts, and require avoidance or compensation for impacts to local infrastructure as well as and regular monitoring and reporting.
Concerned local residents will have access to compensation should any effects of the development impact on their well-being.
In April, the collapse of Grensill Capital put SIMEC Mining’s parent company GFG Alliance into jeopardy, with the need to refinance its assets.
As a result, Credit Suisse trustee Citibank filed a wind-up order in the New South Wales Supreme Court for GFG-owned Tahmoor Coal and OneSteel Manufacturing.
“GFG confirms it has received multiple offers of finance from large investment funds and is in advanced due diligence,” a GFG spokesperson said.
“The term sheets as currently proposed would provide enough cash to repay the creditors of MPS. GFG Alliance expects the confirmatory due diligence to be complete within weeks before a final offer is accepted.
“GFG Alliance is in constructive discussions with Grant Thornton, Greensill’s administrators, and other stakeholders to negotiate a consensual and amicable solution on the way forward, which is in the best interests of all stakeholders.”