Big names in the local coal industry put weight behind Malabar Coal's underground mine proposal for Drayton South

UNION, business and coal industry representatives have written a letter to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in support of Malabar Coal's push to develop an underground mine at Drayton South near Muswellbrook.

Malabar Coal have been running a series of advertisements in the local media promoting an underground mine as a viable option for the Drayton South site.

The company has signed an agreement to purchase both that site and the former Drayton mine site from Anglo American subject to certain conditions. 

One of those being the renewal of the Drayton South Exploration Licence (EL 5460) that had expired on April 1, 2016. 

Renewal of the licence is now being considered by the NSW Department of Planning.

That decision may come as soon as Monday.

Development of the coal reserves at Drayton South has involved a long battle between Anglo and their supporters and the neighbouring thoroughbred studs, Coolmore and Godolphin and their supporters.

Anglo’s plans to develop an open cut mine on the site has been repeatedly rejected by the state’s Planning and Assessment Commission (PAC) with each PAC clearly stating coal mining adjacent to thoroughbred breeding operations is incompatible.

Malabar are arguing in their media statements that an underground mine can co-exist with horse breeding.

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy, Northern District president Peter Jordan, NSW Mining, chief executive officer Stephen Galilee and Muswellbrook Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Mike Kelly have all signed the letter to the Premier supporting Malabar’s underground mine proposal and the need to renew the EL.

The letters say the project would provide 350 new and direct long-term jobs and be great for the local community.

They understand that renewing the EL does not mean the project gains approval rather that it allows for Malabar to put their proposal through the state’s planning process.

Drayton South site from Spur Hill

Drayton South site from Spur Hill

Dear Premier,

We are coming together to express our support for Malabar Coal’s proposal for an underground coal mine within EL 5460, the site previously known as Drayton South.

We understand you and your parliamentary colleagues are currently reviewing the application to renew the exploration licence (EL) and that a decision is imminent. We are each committed to the Hunter Region, and understand the significant economic boost this Project could deliver.

Particularly, we would draw your attention to the following:

1. We understand the project will deliver about 350 new, direct, long-term jobs into the region and many more indirect jobs. This will provide a real boost for the local economy, keeping families and young people in the region. This will provide flow on benefits to other parts of the economy as local wages are spent in our towns. Mining semi-soft coking coal, used in steel making, will also increase the diversity of our local economy.

2. During the construction phase and once mining begins, the project will support local businesses. The project will provide ongoing support for local businesses from the initial capital to establish an underground mine and substantial ongoing operating inputs.

3. Malabar’s proposal for an underground mine only will deliver certainty to a community that has been frustrated by ongoing attempts to obtain approval for an open-cut coal mine on the site.

4. Malabar has outlined a different approach to rehabilitation of the Drayton mine that will deliver a far better outcome for locals. The local community has welcomed this improved outcome.

While we may differ on a range of issues, we unanimously support Malabar’s proposal for the site and wanted to convey this support to you.

We understand the importance of co-existence in our region. Our hope is that you can see this proposal, which is vastly different to past proposals for the site, can deliver the economic boost we desperately want, while also addressing the concerns of other industries or stakeholders. Of course, any future proposal would have to pass through the State’s stringent planning approvals process.

The renewal of the EL is not in any way an approval, it just provides the opportunity for Malabar to submit a proposal must be considered on its merits. We have copied this letter to your parliamentary colleagues the Deputy Premier, the Hon. Don Harwin MP, and the Hon. Anthony Roberts MP.