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Authority declares $950M new coal project is ‘approvable’

Mach Energy workers
Mach Energy workers

A proposed $950 million mining expansion is eligible to receive the nod from a state regulator.

The New South Wales Government recently declared it is willing to approve MACH Energy’s Mount Pleasant Optimisation Project in Muswellbrook, 138km northwest of Newcastle.

“Subject to the recommended conditions the department considers that – on balance – the benefits of the project outweigh its costs, and that the project is approvable,” the Department of Planning and Environment said in its state significant development assessment.

Bureaucrats agreed the site is “well-suited” for the project because it is already within an existing mining lease and a mining precinct. It also has “significant” existing infrastructure.

“[The project] represents a logical ‘brownfields’ extension of existing open-cut mining at Mount Pleasant,” they said in the assessment.

The plan involves optimising the existing mine site to extract an extra 247 million tonnes (Mt) of run-of-mine (ROM) thermal coal through extending some open-cut areas and lowering pit depth by 85 metres. The approved Northern Link Road will be realigned and existing Western Link Road removed.

The final result will be three pits, two out-of-pit emplacements and a single final void. Production will be lifted to 21 Mtpa of ROM coal while the mine’s lifespan will be extended by 22 years until December 2048.

Up to 500 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs will be created during peak construction. Up to 830 FTE workers will be required during peak production. None of these jobs were advertised at the time of publication.

Although Mount Pleasant was first approved in 1999, mining activity only began in 2018.

Click here to read the full assessment.

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