Australian Pacific Coal announces it will appeal the IPC Dartbrook underground decision

In a statement today to the Australian Stock Exchange the owners of the Dartbrook underground mine near Aberdeen announce they will appeal the Independent Planning Commission's (IPC) determination.

The determination handed down on August 9 this year allowed the mine to reopen but it could only operate until 2022 - a decision that would have affected the overall financial viability of the project.

The mine has been in care and maintenance since 2006 and was sold by mining giant Anglo American to Australian Pacific Coal (AQC) in 2016 - a company with no mining experience.

In their ruling the IPC said the mine can recommence operations using bord-and-pillar methods not the usual longwall methods and extract six million tonnes of coal until December 2022.

In their reasons for ruling on the reopening the Commissioners said the bord and pillar methods were less intensive than the existing approved longwall methods and that the impacts that would occur can be mitigated by strict conditions.

However the Commissioners refused to extend the life of the mine for further five years until 2027 as requested by AQC due to questions concerning the economic viability of the project.

In the statement to the ASX the company said they will seek to have the decision amended, within the current NSW guidelines for coal mining projects to permit the restart of of the mining operations.

Of particular interest in the statement is the sentence referring to a request to gain more 'flexability' in the relation to the manner in which the mine is restarted and operated.

One could ask does that mean they company will seek open cut operations?

The Commission stated in the determination there were inadequacies in the economic, social and environmental assessment for the project and their likely impacts.

Due to these failings the Commission remained unconvinced that the application to extend the approval to 2027 is in the public interest.

Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association has previously described the reopening of the underground mine as a Trojan horse for the development of an open cut mine on the site.

In their submission on the modification it stated "that AQC intend to proceed to open cut mining and that the re-commissioning of underground mining is a first step in the open cut direction."

Dartbrook mine will be located 1.3km from Aberdeen and will require 192 B Double trucks on a daily basis to move coal to the railway siding for shipment.

Some of the conditions imposed by the IPC on the project was the requirement for the coal haul roads to the sealed and the proponent must implement dust control measures and not re-open the coal washery.

This story Dartbrook decision to be appealed first appeared on The Singleton Argus.