WHITEHAVEN has moved the boundary of its proposed Vickery coal mine extension away from the Namoi River in response to community concern.
The mine would be two kilometres away from the river, as opposed to 750 metres, now that the Blue Vale section of the project has been removed.
The project’s close proximity to the river was a major concern for the local farming community, due to the the potential pollution risk.
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Whitehaven Coal CEO Paul Flynn said all the studies showed the Blue Vale area near the river could have been safely mined.
But the decision to remove Blue Vale from the plans showed the company placed a high value on the thoughts of the community, he said.
“We know the Blue Vale site has been mined safely before and we are absolutely confident in the science that any future mining activity will not affect the Namoi River,” Mr Flynn said.
“The project already has its full complement of water licences to operate, so no further draw from the river is required.
“We accept, however, that some in the community have questions and we trust this decision will allay those concerns. Co-existence occasionally means compromise.
“Whitehaven, as a responsible operator and significant employer in the local community, believes it is important to be responsive to local sentiment and we will work hard to build on the community’s trust and confidence in what we do.”
The company is in the final stages of developing its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project, which it expects to lodge with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment in the first quarter of 2018.
Mr Flynn said, if approved, there would be no material reduction in the amount of coal Whitehaven would extract over the course of the 25-year mine life as a result of the decision to remove the Blue Vale pit from the extension.
The project will require around 500 jobs during the construction phase and roughly 450 jobs during operations, the majority of which will come from the local community.