Vale push to mine Hunter Valley biodiversity offset areas

The Planning and Assessment Commission will today determine if Vale will be allowed to change its environmental conditions of consent for the Integra Mine Complex.

Vale applied for a fourth modification to the Integra Environmental Approval in May 2014, one which will allow mining beneath a biodiversity offset area.

The area in question near Singleton has been found to contain around 43 million tonnes of coal.

Vale has proposed to remove two biodiversity offset areas, and reduce the size of another two, modify the boundary to one, and establish another area 30km west of the complex.

The move has angered environmental groups, who say Vale delayed conservation of its biodiversity assets in order to continue exploration for coal.

Hunter Communities Network spokesperson Bev Smiles said the situation with Integra had made a mockery of the NSW biodiversity offset process.

“No one in government seems concerned that Integra has been exploring for coal in its biodiversity offset areas, years after it should have been putting management actions in place to protect them,” she said.

“We were assured that biodiversity offsets for mining projects would protect some of our most vulnerable plants, animals and ecological communities.

“But what this proposal shows is special treatment for the mining industry can undermine the delivery of true protection.

“For more than a year, the Department of Planning has allowed Integra to be in breach of their consent, actively proposing to mine the areas they were supposed to have protected.”

Current approvals for the Integra Coal Complex allow open cut mining up to 2022, and underground mining until 2035.