Whitehaven’s Maules Creek and Boggabri coal mine projects have been given go go-ahead by the federal government.
Environment Minister Tony Burke last night granted approval for the controversial projects to go-ahead, setting strict environmental protection conditions.
In a statement, Burke said he was satisfied the projects could go ahead without unacceptable environmental impacts, SMH reported.
The announcement comes just days after the federal government announced a decision was not expected until April.
Chief executive Tony Haggarty welcomed the decision.
"Notwithstanding the stringent environmental conditions which have been placed on the project and the difficult coal market at present, this is a world-class project and Whitehaven will be seeking to bring it into production as soon as possible," he said.
The Maules Creek open cut mine is a key growth project for Whitehaven and was approved by the NSW state government last August.
State government approval took two years and the project was waiting federal approval.
Maules Creek is predicted to double the company’s annual production, making Whitehaven the largest coalminer in the Gunnedah Basin.
The project will produce about 60 per cent semi-soft coking coal, and 40 per cent high-quality thermal coal.
Once at full production, Maules Creek will produce 13 million tonnes annually, of which 10.5 million tonnes will be saleable coal.
Earlier this month Front Line Action on Coal activist Jonathan Moylan temporarily wiped $314 million off the company’s market value when he issued a fake ANZ press release purporting to withdraw a $1.2 billion loan to finance Maules Creek on corporate responsibility grounds.
In took 23 minutes for the hoax to be revealed, and share prices shortly bounced back.
SMH reported that shares in Whitehaven Coal jumped as much as 11 per cent this morning following the approval announcement.