Wollongong Coal gets green light for Russell Vale expansion

Bundaberg coal

Wollongong Coal has received the green light to complete a major mine expansion at its Russell Vale coal operation in New South Wales.

The IPC has granted Wollongong Coal an approval to extract up to 3.7 million tonnes of coal over five years using bord and pillar mining methods at Russell Vale.

This is expected to deliver New South Wales a net economic benefit of up to $174 million and create ongoing employment for 205 people.

The New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has been carefully assessing Wollongong Coal’s application for the development since its submission in September.

The IPC held a two-day public hearing, as per the request of New South Wales Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes to hear the community’s views about the projects.

Issues of concern raised included water resources, subsidence, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, bushfire risk, mine waste, noise, visual amenity, socio-economics, traffic and transport.

After vigilant consideration, the IPC granted Wollongong Coal permission to expand Russell Vale, subject to 118 conditions.

“On balance and when weighed against the objects of the (Environment Planning and Assessment) Act, ecologically sustainable development principles, the relevant policy framework and socio-economic benefits, the impacts associated with the project are acceptable and the project is in the public interest,” the IPC stated.

“The project would result in some amenity impacts and additional environment disturbance associated with the recommencement of mining operations at the site in accordance with the proposed mine plan.

“(However), the commission is of the view that the additional environmental and amenity impacts can be appropriate managed and mitigated in accordance with the applicable guidelines and policies.”

The IPC found that the bord and pillar mining method is unlikely to cause significant surface disturbance and reduces the risk of swamps as a result of mining activities.

Wollongong Coal will be required to ensure there are negligible leakage and reduction in water quality of the nearby Cataract reservoir, as one of its guidelines to continue the project.

It also must ensure that Russell Vale does not significantly change water quality or flow rate and implement noise mitigation bunds, walls and barriers prior to mining operations commencing.

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