A coal mine in the NSW Hunter region has been granted approval by the state’s Planning Assessment Commission to increase its coal production from 16 to 20 million tonnes a year.
The commission on Wednesday approved modifications to the Hunter Valley Operations South mine near Singleton, which include increasing the final mine void to 523 hectares from 404 hectares and increasing the height of parts of the mine by 80 metres.
“After careful consideration, the commission has approved with strict conditions the modification, which it found will continue to deliver economic and social benefits to the Hunter region and the state of NSW,” the commission said in a statement on Wednesday.
The commission’s approval follows the Department of Planning and Environment’s recommendation for approval in December last year.
The approval allows the owner, Yancoal, to mine deeper and extract additional coal at a higher extraction rate.
Under the modifications, the Singleton mine will be able to extract an extra 56.8 million tonnes of coal, resulting in an extra $243 million in royalties and $160 million in taxes.
The department says it’s satisfied the changes would not “significantly increase the impacts” compared to the original project.
The commission received 18 submissions expressing concern about the potential impacts of the proposed changes on air quality, groundwater, void, noise and residents’ quality of life.
One of the objections was submitted by Beverley Smiles from community group Hunter Communities Network who said the changes would cause “numerous cumulative impacts”.
“Hunter Communities Network maintains that the short-term gain from royalties does not compensate for the permanent environmental and social risk of this proposal,” Ms Smiles said in the public submission.