Wallarah 2 thermal coal project takes leap forward with lease approvals

A render of Wallarah 2.

Kores Australia’s Wallarah 2 coal mining project has received two mining leases from the New South Wales Government following a lengthy approvals process.

The project secured development consent from the NSW Government’s planning assessment commission (now known as the Independent Planning Commission) in January 2018, followed by federal approval from former Minister for the Environment Melissa Price 12 months later.

“This project has undergone a rigorous and exhaustive assessment process at both state and federal levels, including a detailed environmental impact assessment and extensive public consultation,” the NSW Government’s Department of Planning and Environment stated.

“In granting the mining leases, conditions have been implemented to prevent and minimise environmental impacts, and to ensure monitoring, reporting and ongoing environmental management.”

The NSW Resources Regulator has estimated the $800 million underground thermal coal project will create 1700 direct and indirect jobs over its 28-year lifespan and bring $830 million in royalties to the state.

The project has not been without controversy, however, attracting the attention of politicians and environmentalists, and the long-gestating project has a troubled development history that dates back to 1995 when the NSW Government first granted two exploration licences for the original participants of the Wyong Areas Coal joint venture.

Wallarah 2 has been criticised by Central Coast community groups such as the Australian Coal Alliance (ACA) for its potential water impacts to the region’s catchment river systems. 

Labor had also voiced its opposition of the mine, and hinted in a draft bill that it would nix the project if elected in the March 2019 NSW state election, a reality that did not come to pass with the reelection of the Liberal Party.

The NSW Minerals Council praised the decision, with chief executive officer Stephen Galilee calling it “a positive sign” that the re-elected state government was serious about backing regional jobs and investment.

“Wallarah 2 has been one of the most scrutinised mining projects in NSW history, subjected to repeated assessment over a ridiculous 16-year period, including by independent scientific experts, the Department of Planning, and the Independent Planning Commission, before receiving a positive determination last year,” he said.

“This project has also been used as a political football at successive state elections. However that’s now all in the past and we commend the NSW Government for granting the project a mining lease so it can proceed.”  

Environmental group Lock the Gate Alliance, which has long been opposed to the mine, expressed its concern about the approval on Facebook, calling the government “goofballs” for making the decision.

Majority owner Kores Australia, which manages the mine under the name Wyong Coal, is a subsidiary of Korea Resource Corporation. 

Kores Australia owns 82.25 per cent of the project in a joint venture with several other companies, including Sojitz Coal (5 per cent), Kyungdong Australia (4.25 per cent), SK Networks Resources Australia (4.25 per cent) and SK Networks Resources (4.25 per cent).

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