The New South Wales Independent Planning Commission (IPC) has approved Whitehaven Coal’s application to extend the Vickery coal mine near Gunnedah.
Whitehaven Coal is now permitted to extract 13 million tonnes a year of coal over a 25-year mine life. The approval will also enable Vickery to transport 11.5 million tonnes of coal from the site using rail each financial year.
Whitehaven will primarily produce metallurgical coal for steel-making, as well as high quality thermal coal for its export markets at Vickery.
The $700 million Vickery extension project is expected to provide a $1.2 billion net economic benefit to New South Wales, and create 950 jobs from construction to operation.
Whitehaven has pledged that 75 per cent of the workforce will be locally-based.
Whitehaven managing director and chief executive Paul Flynn said Vickery would strengthen the company’s position as a coal supplier.
The company will now focus on seeking secondary approvals for the project, along with optimising Vickery for works following the new approval.
The approval process was subject to a stringent technical evaluation and community consultation, which included a multi-stage public hearing by the IPC in February 2019 and July 2020.
Whitehaven also stated it had continued to be cautious in its investments due to the impacts of COVID-19 on coal markets and prices, but described its portfolio as “sought after and well sold”.