The Planning Assessment Commission (PAC)’s independent review of Coalpac’s proposed mine expansion near Lithgow has been received by the state government and publicly released.
The review is a further step in the ongoing development application assessment process by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure.
The application will be referred back to the PAC – configured with different members to those who constituted the review panel – for a final determination.
Coalpac is seeking planning approval for the Coalpac consolidation project, involving the two open cut and high wall coal mines.
Plans for the proposal include consolidating development consents and project approvals at the mines so approval regulates mining across both sites, as well as expanding open cut and high wall mining areas to extract an additional 108 million tonnes of coal.
Merging the operations would result in a total of 3.5 million tonnes per annum of thermal coal being produced from the mines.
Coalpac is proposing to employ up to 120 operational staff and additional contractors for the 21-year life of the project.
In July, the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Brad Hazzard requested that PAC review the Coalpac Consolidation Project, including public hearings and considering potential impacts on biodiversity, water resources and local health and amenity.
Following its review, the PAC has highlighted a range of concerns including impacts on biodiversity and significant rock formations, as well as dust and noise issues.
“In undertaking its assessment and final recommendations to the PAC, the department will carefully consider all impacts associated with the project along with the more than 900 submissions received when it was exhibited earlier [last year].
“In accordance with the government’s policy direction supporting transparency and openness in government processes, the department’s assessment report, once finalised, will be made publicly available on its website and referred to the PAC for a final decision.”