The project did not receive enough public objection for the Planning Assessment Commission to be involved – with the environmental approval coming directly from the planning department.
Vickery has approval to initially produce 4.5 million tonnes per annum run of mine using Whitehaven’s nearby coal handling and preparation plant.
“With infrastructure already in place, the Vickery project will become a low capital startup for Whitehaven,” the company said.
“Timing for startup is still to be determined but is unlikely to occur before the company’s flagship Maules Creek project is fully ramped-up to its 13Mtpa ROM rate.”
The project is seen as another growth option following Maules Creek, which is being built.
“Whitehaven can now seek to form a joint venture for this long life development which will produce Maules Creek quality coal,” Whitehaven managing director and CEO Paul Flynn said of Vickery, which did not require federal government approvals.
Initial mining is expected to be based on a strip ration of about 10:1.
“The large size of the deposit provides an opportunity to expand production up to about 8Mtpa, subject to NSW government approval. Initial capital required to develop the project will be low as existing infrastructure such as the haul road and Gunnedah coal handling and preparation plant and train load-out facilities can be used,” Whitehaven said.
“The expansion opportunity would require a much larger capital outlay for a coal handling and preparation plant and rail loop.”
Whitehaven bought the Vickery thermal and metallurgical coal project from Rio Tinto subsidiary Coal and Allied in 2010.