The NSW Department of Planning and Energy approved the modification request with some modifications before handing it to the PAC for final approval.
“The commission acknowledges that the viability of the proposed modification relies on the ability of the proponent to use its existing infrastructure and workforce adjacent to current working to extract coal from the Whybrow seam,” the PAC said.
“The commission acknowledges the economic benefits of the proposed modification and finds that the proposal would utilise the existing Wambo coal workforce and benefit the local economy through direct employment at the mine and through flow-on contributions to the local, regional, state and national economies.”
The approval means the life of the Wambo Coal Underground Mine, located near Warkworth, is extended by seven years until 2039.
Wambo includes the approved South Bates Underground Mine that incorporates longwall mining in the Whybrow and Wambo Seams.
A viable coal resource in the Whybrow Seam to the northwest of the approved South Bates Underground Mine has been identified based on recent exploration results and geotechnical investigations as well as the successful mining experience in the current South Bates Underground Mine and adjacent open cut mining areas.
“On the basis of this further understanding of the available resource, WCPL [Wambo] is proposing an extension to its South Bates Underground Mine to mine additional longwall panels in the Whybrow Seam,” Peabody said in its environmental assessment.
Underground run-of-mine coal reserves are estimated at 143.3 million tonnes.
The mine was approved to mine underground up to 9.75 million tonnes per annum of ROM coal from the Whybrow, Wambo, Woodlands Hill and Arrowfield Seams.