With 1000 plus submissions received on Hunter Valley Operations (HVO) North and South Continuation projects the mine's operators have used that feedback to make some changes to the plans, which they hope, will see coal being extracted from the site until 2050.
Hunter Valley Operations (HVO) is a multi-pit open cut mining complex, comprising two mine sites, separated by the Hunter River. It is owned jointly by Yancoal and Glencore and is located 24ms north west of Singleton. HVO North was to close in 2025 and HVO South in 2030.
Under the continuation plans a further 400 million tonnes of coal will be extracted with HVO North to close in 2050.
These plans were put on public exhibition in January this year and now the owners have released an Amendment Report prepared by EMM which has been submitted to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.
HVO general manager Dave Foster said the amendments further reduce impacts.
"The overwhelming support for the proposal highlights the many benefits it offers to local people, businesses and the economy," Mr Foster said.
"We want to thank the government agencies and authorities, councils, organisations and community members who took the time to make a submission," he said.
"We've listened and refined the proposal based on that feedback."
Mr Foster said proposal changes include altering the route of the Lemington Road realignment and bringing forward the construction of a low permeability groundwater barrier wall to improve water management. HVO undertook 12 new technical studies, assessments and reviews to provide more information about its proposal and assess the impacts and benefits of its amendments.
He said the new data analysis and proposal amendments will result in:
Mr Foster said continuing mining at HVO will deliver a benefit of more than $4 billion in net present value terms.
"Continued mining will support around 1,500 ongoing jobs and enable ongoing support to local businesses, community projects and charities and essential community services such as roads, hospitals and schools through mining royalties and taxes. In 2022 HVO's direct economic contribution was almost $1.5 billion, which included spending $744 million with 750 businesses.
"Our continuation plans are in line with the NSW Government's Strategic Statement on Coal Exploration and Mining in NSW and Hunter Regional Plan 2041, which recognise that coal production continues to be important to NSW and its regional communities as we transition to a low carbon economy."
"This is not a new mine. Our proposal delivers in-demand, high quality, coal with relatively little additional disturbance to remnant vegetation or other impacts compared to other projects of a similar scale. This coal will contribute to the energy security of some of Australia's important trading partners during their transition to a low carbon economy."
Since the EIS was prepared and exhibited, HVO has become subject to new emissions reduction requirements under the national Safeguard Mechanism reforms. In response to government agency submissions and advice, HVO completed additional analysis of its greenhouse gas emissions data to account for the Safeguard Mechanism reforms, additional site drilling to collect further gas content and composition information and new Australian Government electricity grid decarbonisation forecasts.
Mr Foster said HVO continues to regularly review new technologies and abatement measures to further reduce emissions and will undertake a gas pre-drainage trial if the proposal is approved.
In their submission on the project Singleton Council raised a number of concerns noting the lack of progress on mine rehabilitation, potential increase flooding from the Hunter River, no detailed mine closure plans, risks with the final voids.
"Hunter Valley Operations Complex spans the Singleton Local Government Area from Warkworth in the south, to Liddell Power Station in the North and encompasses approximately 13,000 hectares of disturbance, amounting to approximately 3% of the Singleton Local Government Area. The existing operations are significant in terms of both land area and location," the submission states.
"The Project will also have significant influence over flooding within the Hunter River catchment and its tributaries. These impacts will be affected by changes in infrastructure proposed by the Project (levees, new roads) and will have a cumulative impact on flood behaviour downstream of the Project," it stated.
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