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Proponent appeals $2B coal project rejected due to climate change


An Asia-backed energy company is trying to reverse the outcome of a regulatory ruling that is blocking a $2 billion coal development from proceeding in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley.

Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) is appealing against the New South Wales Independent Planning Commission’s (IPC’s) recent decision to use climate change as a top reason to reject the Bylong Valley Coal Mine, 209 km northwest of Newcastle.

“KEPCO is currently closely reviewing the IPC’s report to determine what options are available following the IPC’s decision,” the company said in a public statement.

Industry supports mine

The New South Wales Minerals Council and residents from neighbouring towns are supporting the legal action.

“The proponent’s decision to appeal will give hope to many in nearby local communities that are keen to see the project proceed,” NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee told the Special Broadcasting Service.

IPC rejected the project back in September 2019 due to climate change, namely the “exploitation and burning of new fossil fuel reserve, which will increase greenhouse gas emissions”.

The proponent had already spent $400 million for a mining licence and a further $115M on buying a total of 13,000 hectares of land required to build the mine. However, the Kepco board was forced to completely write off the value its existing mining rights for the project from nearly $650M to nil.

650 jobs gone

The rejection means 650 jobs that were promised as a result of the mine will not be created.

“KEPCO is particularly disappointed for all those people who supported the project and had sought opportunities for jobs, particularly those in the Rylstone and Kandos areas where we know people are doing it tough,” the company said.

The village that once had a population of 30 has suffered from the uncertainty. The local school was shut down and only a small number of residents remain who are trying to convince the State Government to buy back the land if the appeal fails.

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“They just bought it and deserted it, and just closed up the valley,” Bylong Valley Protection Alliance spokesperson Phillip Kennedy told the broadcaster. “I am wondering when the government is going to stop treating Australia like a clearing sale.”

The Environmental Defenders’ Office is trying to join the initial review on behalf of the alliance.

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