NSW allows underground mining at Drayton South

A NEW South Wales government decision to allow underground coal mining at Drayton South effectively gives a green light for Malabar Coal to buy Anglo American’s 88.17% owned Drayton coal assets for $86 million.
NSW allows underground mining at Drayton South NSW allows underground mining at Drayton South NSW allows underground mining at Drayton South NSW allows underground mining at Drayton South NSW allows underground mining at Drayton South

NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee.

Lou Caruana

While the NSW government knocked back previous attempts by Anglo American to construct an open cut mine at Drayton South under lobbying pressure from nearby horse studs, the Department of Planning and Environment has now seen fit for underground mining to proceed – which was a condition of the Anglo sale to Malabar.    

Anglo American Metallurgical Coal business CEO David Diamond said the company supports the NSW government’s decision to renew the exploration licence EL5460 and it reflects the company’s long-standing view that Drayton South has significant underground potential.

"This presents an important and significant opportunity for the Hunter Valley community and NSW. Any future mining approval would be subject to the very rigorous NSW Government approval processes,” he said.

“The underground mining proposal developed by Anglo American delivered a coexistence solution to reduce impacts and disruptions to the community and allows the region to continue to develop and flourish, which the Hunter Valley region has for generations.”

Anglo American and Malabar Coal entered into a sale and purchase agreement in April 2017 of Anglo American’s 88.17% interest in Drayton (including Drayton thermal coal and Drayton South project). 

“This balanced decision is a significant, positive achievement for all stakeholders,” Diamond said.

NSW Mining CEO Steve Galilee said the decision to renew the exploration licence for underground mining only was common sense and it strikes a balance between mining and local horse studs.

"A proposed underground mine at this site would be completely different from past open-cut proposals - it would be completely underground," he said.

"It would be invisible to local horse studs; it would involve no mining underneath any other properties."

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said the announcement falls far short of the reforms that are needed in the Hunter to restore balance between mining and other land uses.

“We're really disappointed with this narrow and weak gesture, that will condemn the farming and horse breeding industries of the Hunter Valley," she said.