The miner has to show how it will manage issues such as accidental spillages, power failures, fires and natural disasters. Its subsidiary Buller Coal also will have to pay an estimated $300,000 to contribute to the funding of construction costs involving buildings, haul roads and tree removals on the rugged west coast of New Zealand.
Buller Coal applied for the resource consent in September last year, which is subject to strict conditions involving environmental impacts related to mining activities by the West Coast Regional Council.
While the granting of the resource consent is subject to appeal, Buller Coal predicts it will start work on the project in late 2011.
As part of the tenement approval, Buller Coal also will need to contribute to the restoration of historic heritage, involving the monitoring of the Great Spotted Kiwi and other fauna.
Buller Coal chief executive officer Hamish Bohannan said he welcomed the approval and would comply with the conditions set out by the commissioner.
“BCL will comply as a minimum with the conditions set by the commissioners, which underlines the company’s strong commitment to people and the environment,” he said.
“The project will deliver significant economic benefits to not only the West Coast community but to New Zealand as a nation.”
The Escarpment open cast coal operation is situated on the South Island plateau, close to Solid Energy’s Stockton mine.
Recent exploration and drilling activities show the project hosts a Joint Ore Reserves Committee-compliant resource of 47.1 million tonnes, and is expected to produce about 1Mtpa of coal.
The company recently signed a transportation and infrastructure agreement with Solid Energy New Zealand that will help both companies develop export coal resources on the Denniston Plateau.