WOW, the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) is adopting shift work hours like the mines it approves.
On Saturday, when everyone was looking at Bureau of Meteorology radar to check out some very welcome rainfall, the IPC released a statement saying - a week after approving the Rix's Creek mine extension and then almost immediately saying that approval was invalid - it is now approved.
So for the record Bloomfield's Rix's Creek South Project is approved and will allow mining operations to continue for a further 21 years.
Bloomfield Collieries Pty Ltd lodged a state significant development (SSD) application to expand its Rix's Creek South Mine, 5km northwest of Singleton, and continue open cut mining operations there until 2040.
Under the proposal, it is estimated an additional 25 million tonnes of product coal, with royalties of more than $104 million, would be recovered from the mine over that period.
This decision will please the mine's owners, employees and contractors, the member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen, Federal member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon and the NSW Minerals Council.
For those opposed to further extensions of mining operations in the Singleton Local Government Area the passing comments by the IPC on air quality based on 'best practice' outcomes raises many concerns given the significant number of air quality alerts for the surrounding area.
Commissioners Mary O'Kane (Chair), Andrew Hutton and Tony Pearson were appointed to consider the application say in their statement:
After carefully considering all the evidence and weighing the community's views, the Commission has today (Saturday 12 October 2019) determined to approve with conditions the SSD application, which will allow an expansion of mining activities to the south of the existing Pit 1 and northwest of the existing Pit 3.
In its Statement of Reasons for Decision, the Commission concluded the application is in the public interest - because (in summary):
- it is "in respect of an existing brownfield site, with existing operational mining infrastructure"
- "noise and vibration impacts have been adequately assessed" and "appropriate mitigation, management measures and accelerated noise attenuation are proposed"
- "air quality has been adequately assessed and found by the Department to be aligned with contemporary best practice for NSW coal mines, and improvements should continue to be pursued over time" and "the Ministry of Health was satisfied with the assessment and recommended conditions"
- "GHG emissions have been adequately minimised as far as practicable and within the capability of the Applicant's control... Conditions of consent have been included to require the Applicant to take all reasonable steps to improve energy efficiency and to reduce the Application's GHG emissions over the life of the Application"
- "biodiversity offsets have been quantified and a staged offset strategy identified to retire the necessary biodiversity offsets for the Application"
- "biodiversity impacts have been appropriately assessed and can be managed through conditions of consent"
- "water resources have been appropriately addressed and conditions of consent proposed to ensure impacts are appropriately managed and mitigated"
- "rehabilitation and risk of early closure has been appropriately assessed... The requirement for a Rehabilitation Strategy and Rehabilitation Management Plan, updated every 3 years, and incorporating risks of unplanned closure into risk assessments, provides assurance that the Applicant's closure arrangements will consider unplanned closure and have regard for the Council's strategic planning and community expectations given the close proximity of the Application to the Singleton Township and Camberwell"
- "visual impacts are appropriately assessed and considered to be relatively minor overall given the existing operation"
- "heritage impacts have been assessed and would be appropriately managed through conditions of consent"
- "blasting impacts have been adequately assessed and would be appropriately managed"
- "traffic impacts have been adequately assessed and would be appropriately managed"
- "social and economic impacts have been adequately assessed appropriately managed, consistent with the guidelines for the economic assessment of mining and coal seam gas proposals... The Application would generate economic and social benefits as a result of employment opportunities and revenue to the State"
- "A planning agreement would be entered into by the Applicant and [Singleton] Council which would provide further benefits locally"
- "the Applicant has adequately addressed the recommendations in the Commission's Review Report" and
- "the Application meets the principles of [Ecologically Sustainable Development]".
The Commission has imposed conditions on its approval which are designed to "prevent, minimise and/or offset adverse social and environmental impacts; set standards and performance measures for acceptable environmental performance; require regular monitoring and reporting; and provide for the ongoing environmental management of the development."