The approval allows for an increase in the approved rate of mining from 2 million tonnes per annum to 2.5Mtpa and up to a 20-year extension to current operations.
“We are very pleased to have received this key approval,” Whitehaven Coal managing director Tony Haggarty said. “It allows Werris Creek mine to extract the maximum available coal resource and allows the substantial employment and economic benefits which the mine provides to the local area to continue for up to 20 years.
“The conditions contained in the approval address both the needs of the mine and the potential impacts raised by the local community.”
The current office, workshop and coal crushing and preparation area will be relocated and product coal stockpiles will be increased from 100,000t to 250,000t.
A rail loop to improve efficiency of train loading and potentially reduce the amount of shunting required will also be constructed.
To minimise the environmental and community impact of the extension, Whitehaven has committed to the establishment of a community enhancement fund which will be operated in consultation with the Liverpool Plains Shire Council and a community consultative committee.
The fund will provide for the investment of $300,000 in local community projects over the next six years.
Whitehaven has also undertaken to employ real-time noise and air quality monitoring and restrict mining remaining to at least 2.6 km from the Werris Creek township.
Exploration has shown that the deposit does not physically extend any closer to the town than this limit. Mining would not progress any closer to Werris Creek Road than is currently approved, Whitehaven said.