Upper Hunter industry joins to block Anglo’s Drayton South mine expansion

Hunter Valley tourist operators, wineries and horse studs have again called on the NSW state government to reject Anglo American’s expansion of Drayton South mine.

The calls come after a recent Planning Assessment Commission report into the project recommended it be rejected, finding the expansion would have adverse effects on two nearby horse studs as a result of dust and noise.

A new panel of members will now evaluate the project on behalf of Planning Minister Brad Hazzard.

The open letter to Premier Barry O’Farrell, Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner and other key ministers, from Upper Hunter Tourism, Upper Hunter Winemakers Association and the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association, states businesses in the region are at risk if the mine expansion goes ahead, Newcastle Herald reports.

‘‘If the new mine proposed at Drayton South proceeds it will result in a net loss of $457million to the NSW economy, it will strip $120million annually from our local economy, and it will put at risk 640 jobs,’’ the letter said.

‘‘It will place at risk thousands more jobs when the impacts on our state racing, wine and tourism industries are taken into account.’’

The project will eventually come within 500 metres of some of the region’s most prized horse studs including Coolmore and Darley.

Darley stud director Andrew Wiles said if Drayton South was approved it would force the stud to consider closing its multimillion-dollar operations.

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

The Drayton South expansion was to 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 Anglo say all jobs are at risk if the expansion does not gain approval.

Now workers at the operation are hitting back saying families and local businesses will suffer if the mine closes.

The NSW Minerals Council is also on board, urging people to use social media to lobby for the project’s approval.

“The existing operation provides work for 140 local businesses which together benefit from $70 million worth of local procurement each year, which would be lost if the extension isn’t approved,” the council said.

While the CFMEU has also backed Anglo's plans, stating the mine’s extension was vital in ensuring mining in the region remained strong.

“Coal mining is a critical industry for the Hunter, generating wealth and skilled, secure jobs. It’s important that new projects come online to make up for those winding down,” the union said.

Drayton mine general manager Clarence Robertson said Anglo had already responded to consultation with neighbours by changing its mine plan, investing more than $60 million on technical reports and giving up more than $5 billion worth of coal by moving the future mine behind natural ridgelines to minimise its visual impact.

Image: abc.net

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