Concerns over 'cumulative' impacts of Ulan expansion

THE Mid Western Regional Council reportedly wants $A12 million from Xstrata Coal to handle expected social impacts from the ramp-up of its Ulan operations in New South Wales.
Concerns over 'cumulative' impacts of Ulan expansion Concerns over 'cumulative' impacts of Ulan expansion Concerns over 'cumulative' impacts of Ulan expansion Concerns over 'cumulative' impacts of Ulan expansion Concerns over 'cumulative' impacts of Ulan expansion

Underground crew finish their shift at Ulan.

Blair Price

In August, Xstrata approved the $US1.1 billion Ulan West longwall project which is expected to create 350 operational jobs when production starts in 2014 for a mine life of 18 years.

Construction is expected to start in late 2010 and create 270 jobs.

The new longwall mine is targeting 6.7 million tonnes per annum of product coal.

But the continued operation of the Ulan No.3 longwall mine and the resumption of nearby open cut mining are expected to raise total production from the Ulan complex to 20Mtpa of export thermal coal.

During the initial community consultation phases of the project, the MWRC was concerned with increased traffic impacts, maintaining roads, the capability of existing medical facilities and the impact on local housing and education.

The council was also concerned with cumulative impacts of mining in the region especially regarding noise, dust, low frequency vibration, increased train and traffic movement plus the loss of community cohesion.

In seeking $12 million from Xstrata, MWRC general manager Warwick Bennet told the ABC the current draft approval conditions did not go far enough while the council did not want to restrict coal mining in the region at this stage.

“What it is saying is there is a significant effect, an accumulative effect of all of them which will have on community infrastructure, water, housing, medical and it cannot be addressed if we deal with each mine and each application individually," he said according to the report.

The council is reportedly holding talks with Planning Department representatives on the draft conditions for the Ulan expansion.

Last year, McCullough Robertson senior associate Brendan Tobin told ILN there was a push for authorities to seek cumulative assessments for projects, requiring a company to assess not only the potential impacts of its proposed or current operation, but the impact of nearby or adjoining operations.

ILN has not yet received comments from Xstrata.