Comment sought on Airly application for 20-year extension

A proposal to extend the operating life of Airly coal mine near Lithgow for 20 years is now on exhibition and the Department of Planning and Environment is seeking views on the mine’s application to allow the extraction of up to 1.8 million tonnes of coal per year.
Comment sought on Airly application for 20-year extension Comment sought on Airly application for 20-year extension Comment sought on Airly application for 20-year extension Comment sought on Airly application for 20-year extension Comment sought on Airly application for 20-year extension

Centennial's Airly continuous miner operation.

Lou Caruana

The owner of the mine – Centennial Coal – is also seeking the extension of current mining operations further east and an additional five years to decommission the mine and return the site to a natural condition at the end of the project.

The construction of a previously approved coal handling and preparation facility as well as other facilities needed to operate the extended mine, such as dams and coal storage areas and transporting processed coal to market by rail are also under consideration.

A spokesman for the Department of Planning and Environment said input from the local community would help inform the assessment of the application.

“The final decision about the proposal will be made by the independent Planning Assessment Commission (PAC), at arm’s length from the government,” he said.

“Before that can happen, the department must assess the proposal and hearing the community’s opinion is a central part of that process.”

Current operations at the mine are approved until October this year.

The mine has submitted a separate application to extend this for an additional 12 months so it can continue operating until a decision is made on the 20 year extension proposal.

The 12 month extension application has been referred to the independent PAC for final determination, with the Department recommending it be approved with strict conditions.

“There are currently 60 people working at the mine. The extension would allow the mine to continue operating while a decision on the longer term proposal is being made,” a department spokesman said.

“While the mine has been operating for almost five years, the community made it clear that it expects the mine to work in line with contemporary environmental standards, particularly around minimising subsidence.

“The assessment found that issues including subsidence, heritage and impacts on local views had been adequately addressed and can be managed with strict conditions.

“Given that the proposal is essentially asking permission to continue the mine’s current operations, the assessment found that it would not create significant new impacts.”

The 12-month extension application went on public exhibition earlier this year and received 217 submissions from community members, 212 of which objected to the proposal.

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