Whitehaven Coal’s Vickery extension project has been approved by the Federal Government after an exhaustive process of technical evaluation and stakeholder consultation that spanned five years.
Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley signed off on the project following 560 public submissions from the coal miner, 62 per cent of which related to recognition of the local economic benefits it offered.
The Vickery extension was first approved by the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) in August 2020 but had to get the Federal go-ahead before proceeding.
Leading into the NSW IPC approval, Whitehaven was subject to a stringent technical evaluation and community consultation, which included a multi-stage public hearing in February 2019 and July 2020.
Whitehaven will now look to capitalise on high coal prices as it solidifies the sustainability of the Vickery project, which Whitehaven believes can contribute to global CO2 emissions reduction and containment efforts.
Located about 25 kilometres north of Gunnedah, the Vickery mine will produce a majority metallurgical coal for steel-making.
It involves the extraction of 135 million tonnes of coal over a 30-year mine life. 11.5 million tonnes of coal will be transported from the site using rail each financial year.
In 2020, Whitehaven forecasted Vickery to provide a $1.2 billion net economic benefit to New South Wales, and create 950 jobs from construction to operation.
The company also pledged that 75 per cent of the workforce will be locally-based.
Prior to the initial NSW Independent Planning Commission approval, Whitehaven managing director and chief executive Paul Flynn was excited by Vickery’s prospects.
“Vickery has the potential to be one of the most significant sources of employment and investment in northwest New South Wales in the coming years and major infrastructure projects have a key role to play in the post COVID-19 economic recovery, including for regional Australia.”