About that Dartbrook decision

HOGSBACK reckons he could hear the champagne corks popping at the homes of horse stud owners in billionaire’s row in the Hunter when the Independent Planning Commission turned down Australian Pacific Coal’s application to extend the life of the Dartbrook mine for another five years.
About that Dartbrook decision About that Dartbrook decision About that Dartbrook decision About that Dartbrook decision About that Dartbrook decision

This was another victory for the thoroughbred set.

Anglo American's proposed Drayton South project got knocked on the head by a concerted campaign by the horse stud owners who infiltrated the corridors of power in Macquarie Street and ensured that they held sway in the Upper Hunter.  

Now we learn that the historic Dartbrook mine has only been allowed to mine underground using bord-and-pillar methods for another three years.

That is hardly worth the effort, even with a less capital intensive bord-and-pillar mine.

AusPac executive chairman John Robinson was understandably outraged.

"The determination … has taken many months and while the main elements of mining and transport were approved, it is disappointing the IPC did not approve the additional five years of mine life," Robinson said.

"The application was subject to significant support and scrutiny from the local community and we will endeavour to work closely with all stakeholders as we embark on the next phase for Dartbrook."

Robinson said the company would carefully review and consider the reasons for the decision and evaluate all available options.

Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders' Association president Cameron Collins told The Australian the group welcomed the rejection of the extension.

"We commend the commission for identifying inconsistencies and failures of this project application and its assessment - including the lack of any assessment of the proposal's impact on the Hunter's equine critical industry cluster," he said.

The coal industry employs and trains people in an export industry vital to both the Hunter and the national economy.

If the horse stud owners decided to pack up their expensive livestock and leave the Hunter Valley it would hardly register in the local economy except for maybe a drop of in caviar sales.

New projects such as the Dartbrook mine extension, which aimed to bring back to life a mine that lay dormant for years, gives opportunities for a whole new generation of mine workers in the region.

This is now in doubt because of a planning regime that seems to give more credibility to pretty images for television news than to real economic benefits for the working population of the Hunter Valley.