The New South Wales government’s planning department is satisfied with the various changes made to the project and passed it on to PAC last week for final approval.
“The department is satisfied that Shenhua has designed the project in a manner that achieves a reasonable balance between maximising the recovery of a recognised coal resource of state significance and minimising the potential impacts on surrounding land users and the environment as far as is practicable,” it said.
“In particular, the department is satisfied that the additional groundwater modelling has provided greater certainty that the project would not result in any significant impacts on water resources or the agricultural productivity of the Liverpool Plains.”
The $850 million Watermark open cut project is targeting up to 10 million tonnes per annum run of mine over 30 years with about 84% of the saleable coal to be of metallurgical grade.
It’s the second biggest project planned for the Gunnedah Basin (after Whitehaven’s 13Mtpa Maules Creek project) and is forecast to generate $1.5 billion of NSW royalties over its mine life.
In September a station owner told the Namoi Valley Independent/i> there would be “civil disobedience” if the project was approved.