Xstrata’s Ulan coal mine wins emissions case

 The NSW Land and Environment Court has declined to impose further greenhouse gas offset conditions on the project approvals for Xstrata’s Ulan coal mine.

In a judgement in November the Court upheld Ulan’s approval that was originally granted in 2010, however during these proceedings the Hunter Environment Lobby appealed for increased greenhouse gas emission conditions to be placed on the mine.

It faced opposition after it was granted approval to double its production.

The Hunter Environment Group argued the Ulan expansion should be prevented on the grounds that it will worsen climate change.

"Multinationals the size of Xstrata have the resources to become responsible global citizens and could be investing in other industries," spokesperson Bev Smiles stated.

The plan to consolidate current operations would apply for the next 20 years and maximum production would go from 10 million tonnes a year to 20 million.

According to the NSW Nature Conservation Council, the mine would create 575 million tonnes of carbon pollution over its life.

"We have increasingly robust evidence that the total cost of climate change under different scenarios will be enormous," Pepe Clarke from the Council said.

"Expert evidence will be presented on the total volume of carbon dioxide emissions from the coal and the true cost of this at a global level."

The Court yesterday refused to impose the conditions, stating that "the imposition of such conditions was both ‘unnecessary’ and ‘not warranted’ ".

It went on to state that the Clean Energy Act 2011 was already a national response to the emissions problems, declining to impose conditions on the mine other than those from the NSW minister for planning when he granted approvals in 2010.

The news was welcomed by Xstrata.

Ian Cribb, Xstrata Coal NSW COO, said the ruling "and that of November 2011 reocgnises our ongoing commitment to ensuring the environmental management of our sites.

"We will comply with the conditions set by the Court. We take the environmental management of our mining operations very seriously and have transparently outlined for all relevant authorities our groundwater, ecological, and greenhouse gas management strategies through each stage of the application process."

Cribb said the Court’s decision not to require carbon offsets for an individual project was right, as it would have unfairly singled out one mine within the industry when the issue should be on a national policy.

The Ulan mine was, until recently, in care and maintenance until Xstrata decided to reopen the former open cut operation as a new underground mine.

It will begin production this year, longwall production on 2014, and will operate until around 2030.


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