Xstrata expansion will create 150 new coal jobs

Ramping up production at Xstrata’s Mangoola coal mine by almost 30 per cent to 13.5 million tonnes of coal a year will create an estimated 150 new jobs.

The company said they are seeking permission to expand the mine located between Denman and Muswellbrook which will take total employment at the facility from 300 to 450 people.

But greens groups say the increased production will have an unsustainable environmental impact, the Newcastle Herald reported.

In its application to the NSW Department of Planning, the coal miner has requested approval to lift run-of-mine production from 10.5 million tonnes to 13.5million tonnes per annum.

Xstrata announced in a local newsletter that it is seeking increased ‘‘flexibility’’ in its blasting frequencies but will not seek to modify blasting limits in the community.

Hunter Communities Network spokeswoman Bev Smiles said the Mangoola application was ‘‘part of a pattern’’ in which mining companies attempt to loosen original approval conditions once a mine is up and running.

‘‘They agree to various restrictions to get the mine over the line, then they lodge variations under Section 75W of the [Environmental Planning and Assessment] Act, which do not require as much investigation as the original Part 3A application, and which cannot be appealed,’’ Smiles said.

Originally called Anvil Hill, Mangoola was approved by the NSW state government in 2008 under the proviso it did “not discharge any saline water from the site’’.

Xstrata is now requesting approval to pump saline water into the Hunter River.

The company said the request is primarily a “contingency” plan and discharging the saline water into the river would not be an everyday event.

Instead, it would only occur ‘‘in extreme or prolonged high rainfall periods’’ and would ‘‘provide assurance’’ against ‘‘unplanned discharges or overtopping’’ of water from voids or dams.

An environmental assessment is yet to go on display for public comment.

Xstrata’s announcement comes off the back of a tough year in the coal sector, it has been estimated about 8,000 jobs have been lost in the past twelve months.

Xstrata Coal recently cut jobs from its Bowen Basin operations in Queensland and also at its Ulan coal mine in NSW’s Central West.

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