Shenhua says Watermark mine will go ahead despite buy back

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Shenhua says it still plans to progress the Watermark coal mine in light of the NSW government $262m buy back of half its exploration licence.

Shenhua Australia Chairman Liu Xiang said the planning for the mine would continue on the remaining section of the licence “in line with the planning approvals” from both the state and federal governments.

The NSW government said despite the agreement, Shenhua's expired exploration licence had yet to be renewed.

“An application to amend the current renewal application to remove the relinquished area has been received,” a Department of Planning and Environment spokesman said.

“The relinquished area will be removed from the title and the consideration of the renewal application for the remainder of the licence will be considered as per normal procedures and in accordance with the Act.”

In a statement to The Leader, Shenhua expressed its “disappointment” regarding the NSW government’s stance on mining operations on black soil plains, “as it would prevent its efforts” to get its exploration licence “wholly renewed”.

While Shenhua believes it “would have been able to responsibly expand its existing Watermark Coal Mine”, it has “come to terms with the NSW Government’s decision to not allow any mining on the black soil plains”.

“[Shenhua] appreciate [the NSW government’s] willingness to work with us to agree an acceptable financial outcome for the removal of part of our exploration licence,” a Shenhua spokesman said.

Mr Xiang said the mine had been been subject to “unprecedented scrutiny” which had demonstrated the project could be developed in an environmentally sustainable manner.

“We will continue to co-operate with the NSW government in respect of progressing the project and ensuring it meets the highest environmental standards,” he said.

“We look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the local community as we progress this project for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

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