The new panels will give the miner 4-5 million tonnes of coal but will not extend United’s mine life.
“We still have development consent to make 2.5 million tonnes of product coal per year until December 2012 – this allows us to keep doing that,” an Xstrata spokesman told ILN.
“We are able to open up those two new longwall panels but we are not extending the life of the development consent or the production consent.
“It is just a slight change to the mining plan to the areas we were accessing.”
The approval gives Xstrata access to two panels that previously the producer could not access.
Access to the longwall panels was granted by the NSW Department of Planning.
The United mine is located in the Hunter Valley near Singleton and had a total raw coal output of 3,403,100 tonnes in 2007-08.
Xstrata is continuing with its coal exploration Blakefield development near its Beltana longwall.