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Major coal mine expansion approved

Glencore Mount Owen Complex
Glencore Mount Owen Complex

Authorities have given the nod for a mineral producer to proceed with a coal project in New South Wales’ Hunter region.

The NSW Independent Planning Commission (NSW IPC) recently approved Glencore’s Glendell Coal Mine Expansion at the Mount Owen Complex, 99km northwest of Newcastle.

“After careful consideration of all the evidence, the commission has determined to approve the modification application,” NSW IPC said in a public statement. “In its statement of reasons, the commission concluded that the application is in the public interest and, on balance, the benefits outweigh the costs of the application.”

Decades of job security

The project involves expanding the existing Barrett open pit by 4.3 hectares and clearing 4 sq km of native vegetation. Once work is complete the enlarged pit is estimated to yield an additional 1.97 million tonnes (Mt) of run-of-mine coal, and also extend the mine’s lifespan to the year 2044.

The full operation involves drilling and blasting to remove overburden plus operating large excavators and haul trucks to extract coal. Graders, dozers, water carts, drills and loaders are also part of the mining fleet.

Extracted coal is sent in rear dump trucks via internal haul roads to the run-of-mine coal receiving point near the Mt Owen Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP), which is capable of processing up to 15Mt of coal annually. Product coal from the CHPP is transported by a conveyor to a product coal stockpile where it is forwarded to a fully automated train lead-out facility. The coal is shipped by sea via the Port of Newcastle.

None of the jobs are advertised yet.

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The State Department of Planning, Industry and Environment received more than 25 public objections concerning air quality during the public consultation process. NSW IPC commissioners Stephen O’Connor, Zada Lipman and Chris Fell have been considering the proposed project since December 2019.

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