In the report, the department said “the extraction of the Drayton coal resource would generate substantial economic benefits for the regional and state economy” and the assessment had found that biodiversity, heritage, land, water, economic and social impacts were “unlikely to be significant and would be suitably mitigated and/or offset”
Anglo American Drayton South project director Rick Fairhurst called on the Planning Assessment Commission to progress to the next stage of project approvals with urgency, to provide the 500 employees at Drayton with certainty about their futures.
Fairhurst said the department had made the assessment on the retracted mine plan submitted in March this year, which incorporated a smaller mining area than was previously presented to the PAC in October 2013.
“Under the new plan, the mine will sit behind the natural landscape and the mine life will reduce to 20 years instead of the previous proposal of 27 years, with total tonnes reducing from 119 million to 97 million over the mine life,” he said.
“Further changes to the mine plan were made to protect local jobs and ensure our employees can continue to work and live in the Muswellbrook and surrounding communities, and it is fantastic to see our willingness to compromise recognised.
“Our priority is to secure project approval as soon as possible so we can develop the future mine.”
Fairhurst said the report was balanced and had taken into consideration the compromises the company had made to coexist with other industries and ensure it operates the future mine in a responsible way which did not exceed environmental and air quality parameters.
“We have reached a critical stage for the Drayton workforce, having recently moved from a seven-day to a five-day roster in response to prolonged delays to the project. Approval is urgently needed to ensure the Drayton operation can continue when the current mineable reserves expire next year,” Fairhurst said.
“We look forward to the next PAC review of the project being held in a timely manner, so we can develop the replacement mine as soon as possible while coexisting responsibly alongside other industries.”
Drayton South will deliver $35 million in NSW government royalties each year, spend $70 million a year with local businesses annually and secure 500 local jobs, according to the company.