The Korea Resources Corporation-led Wyong Areas Coal Joint Venture has faced significant environmental opposition since the preliminary application was submitted.
Planning Minister Tony Kelly said the review will inform the Planning Department’s assessment of the project, which will extract 150 million tonnes of thermal coal over its initial mining period of 28 years.
“The NSW Government is well aware of the community’s concerns about the potential impacts of the Wallarah 2 proposal, particularly regarding subsidence,” Kelly said.
“That’s why, in August last year, Kristina Keneally committed to sending the proposal to the PAC for an independent review of the project’s merits.”
Part of the PAC’s review requires public meetings to be held.
Three technical experts will be on the panel to assess the project and report back by October 15.
They include Galvin and Associates managing director and subsidence expert Emeritus Professor John Galvin, NTEC Environmental Technology managing director and groundwater and engineering specialist Dr Lloyd Townley and Evans & Peck principal Dr Steve Perrens, who is an expert in water management on minesites.
Particular attention will be paid to the project’s potential impacts on the central coast’s drinking water supply.
Wallarah 2 environment and community manager Peter Smith told ILN the PAC review will settle down some of the misperceptions of the project and was pleased it will be complete by mid-October.
“The people doing the assessment are all world class experts,” he said.
He expects the review to confirm the technical conclusions the JV has made to date and the results will lead to a much more secure environmental approval for the project.
Peabody Energy’s Metropolitan mine extension project was the first to face scrutiny from the PAC, which was formed in late 2008.
This longwall project was eventually approved but the public meetings created an emotional hearing process.
Wallarah 2 is expected to produce 4-5 million tonnes per annum from the fifth year of operation.
Mining is expected to last 42 years but a separate government approval is needed to mine from the 29th year.
The proposed mine is expected to create 300 direct jobs, 700 additional jobs, and $1 billion investment to the Central Coast in the first three years of construction.