Glencore’s Ulan coal mine has received the greenlight for a modification application to expand its underground mine.
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment approved the modification which will extend the mine’s operational life by another two years, according to the Mudgee Guardian.
The plan will see major changes to the layout of Ulan Main West layout, increasing the project area by 275 hectares and allowing for the extraction of 13 million additional tonnes of coal.
According to the Department of Planning, “The key assessment issues included potential subsidence impacts, groundwater and surface water impacts, and effects on Aboriginal heritage sites and biodiversity values.”
The Department also found that potential subsidence levels caused by the extension of underground mining, would no substantially increase at the site.
In addition to a research and impact mitigation strategy in regards to local Indigenous cultural heritage, the mine’s approved Biodiversity Offset strategy has also been strengthened through increasing the size of the offset areas.
The Department of Planning went on to state Glencore’s proposal to extend Ulan included changing the location of some of the mine’s infrastructure, which in turn reduced the amount of White Box Woodland trees affected by the mine, decrease the potential area form 22 hectares to 8.5 hectares.
"Glencore has welcomed the approvals provided by NSW Planning and Environment and the Commonwealth Department of Environment for continued operations at its Ulan West underground mine," a Glencore spokesperson told Australian Mining.
"The decision will enable the mine to continue production at the existing approved rate for a further two years to 2033, providing ongoing employment for Ulan West’s workforce of more than 300 people.
"We have paid particular attention to minimising potential impacts on sites of cultural heritage and have worked from the start of project planning with local indigenous groups, including the Warrabinga Native Title Claimants, North East Wirradjurri, Mudgee LALC, Murong Gialinga Corporation, Warranha Ngumbaay and the Wellington Valley Wiradjuri Aboriginal Corporation, to develop agreed mitigation strategies," he said.
"We will continue to work with these groups to put these strategies in place as we prepare for future mining activities."