A public hearing will be held by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission on Tuesday over the expansion of a large mining complex in Upper Hunter Valley.
Located outside Singleton, Glencore’s Mount Owen mining complex, which comprises of Mount Owen, Ravensworth East and Glendell open cut mines, has applied to expand existing operations until 2030 to recover an additional 90 million tonnes of coal and consolidate operations across the site.
In November, The Department of Planning said it was “generally satisfied the project represents a reasonable and logical extension to existing operations”.
NSW Health and the NSW Environment Protection Authority expressed concern over dust and air quality, including the cumulative impact of more dust from the mine which is surrounded by Liddell, Ravensworth, Ashton and Integra open cut mines.
NSW Health questioned the mine’s ability to meet expected new tighter air quality standards under consideration by federal and state environment ministers on Tuesday, after reports show existing mine operations exceed current air quality National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM) standards.
The Environment Protection Authority was unable to provide the Department of Planning with recommended approval conditions for air, noise and surface water impacts.
There was a “high level of uncertainty” about likely air quality impacts on people living near the mine because of the modelling prepared for the project, the EPA said.
Glencore said the expanded Mount Owen complex would produce about 5 per cent of the state’s annual export coal, provide employment for 920 workers, pay up to $280 million in royalties to the NSW Government, and require about $150 million in capital investment.
The Department of Planning noted that total indirect carbon emissions over the life of the project would be about 132 million tonnes, “however much of this would not be accounted for in Australia’s annual emissions, as product coal would be primarily exported for combustion overseas”.
It also noted the project had “the potential to result in significant impacts on endangered ecological communities, threatened flora and fauna species”.
The NSW Planning Assessment Commission will hold a public hearing into the project from 12.30pm on Tuesday at Singleton Diggers Club.