The Narama West operations would use the existing operational workforce and equipment from the Narama mining area to optimise coal resource recovery in the mine, the Director General said.
“The modification would allow the recovery of an additional 2.7 million tonnes of ROM coal, provide continuing state and commonwealth royalties and tax income, and efficiently recover resources that would otherwise be sterilised,” he said.
“Given these benefits, and the limited environmental impacts predicted, the department is satisfied that the proposed modification would have positive socio-economic outcomes.”
GlencoreXstrata’s proposal would provide the opportunity for a coal resource to be extracted, prior to the mined-out area being used for overburden emplacement.
The proposal involves extracting and processing 2.7Mt of ROM coal over a period of about two years, using truck and shovel or dragline mining methods, while transporting and processing the coal for domestic or export use in accordance with the existing arrangements at the mine complex.
The modification would not extend the life of the Ravensworth operations project beyond its December 2039 approval period, nor would it exceed the approved maximum extraction limit of 16 Mtpa of ROM coal.
Proposed mining operations would start this year.
Following completion of mining in the Narama West extension area, the mine void would be backfilled, used for overburden emplacement, and rehabilitated in accordance with the existing conditions of approval.
GlencoreXstrata also proposed to make some unrelated administrative and other amendments to the project approval, including: increasing the maximum blast vibration criterion at Aboriginal grinding groove site ‘REA86’; additional blast management commitments to reflect an agreement with Coal & Allied, which operates the adjacent Hunter Valley Operations (HVO) mine; and a minor amendment to the project boundary to include the Newdell substation.
“The department is satisfied that the proposal can be characterised as a modification to the original approval rather than a new project in its own right, because the additional coal to be recovered is a small fraction of Xstrata’s annual and total approved coal production, and would be processed in accordance with existing approved operations,” the Director General said.
“The disturbance footprint for the Narama West extension is within the approved operations boundary, and primarily within the footprint of an approved overburden emplacement area.
“The proposed change to the project boundary is minor and the project as modified would be substantially the same as the originally approved project.”
The Director General said the department is satisfied that that GlencoreXstrata’s proposed modification was within the scope of Section 75W of the EP&A Act.