Cockatoo has approval to drill 120 boreholes in an area of more than 100 square kilometres between Belanglo, Exeter and Moss Vale, some of which would be near the palatial residence of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, called Bunya Hill.
The application to conduct the exploration work was approved on May 6 by the NSW Department of Trade Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services.
The area’s local member and NSW government cabinet minister Pru Goward has also been a vocal critic of mining near the rural hamlet of Sutton Forest and in the southern highlands generally.
"I'm sorry they've started exploring – I think that's a pity," she allegedly told the Illawarra Mercury.
"We'll see if we can stop even that work happening."
Korean steel giant Posco successfully acquired 100% of Anglo Coal’s controversial Sutton Forest project and has transferred a 30% interest to Cockatoo Coal.
Cockatoo, which has rebadged it the “Hume” project to draw attention away from the hamlet, issued $21.5 million worth of shares to Posco to fund its interest after the transaction received approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board in November.
Korean power group KEPCO has acquired 100% of Anglo Coal's Bylong project, a 423 million tonne export grade thermal coal resource in NSW, and granted a three year call option for a 30% interest to Cockatoo.
“Key project development teams have been established to determine the development pathway for each of the projects,” Cockatoo said in its quarterly report.
“Cockatoo has been appointed as the manager of both projects and is currently establishing full project teams to undertake exploration, evaluation and development activities.
“Due to the timing of completion of the acquisition of these projects, limited activities were undertaken during the quarter.”
Hume would have a resource base of 115Mt of coking coal with a conceptual mine life of 30 years at 1.8Mt per annum.
Residents are concerned that the amenity of the area would be ruined by trucks delivering coal to Port Kembla and that underground aquifers would be disturbed by longwall mining.