Gujurat NRE could slash the life of its Russell Vale mine expansion from a planned 18 years to just five years after flagging major changes to its $250 million growth proposal.
Documents from the company's last community consultative committee meeting, held on June 3, show a dramatic scaling down of plans for the company's No 1 Colliery.
A copy of the meeting minutes obtained by the Mercury indicate the company will submit a significantly downsized application to NSW Planning, after its original proposal was rejected by several major government agencies and Wollongong City Council due to environmental concerns and a lack of information.
As well as cutting the estimated project life span by more than two-thirds, plans for seven longwalls at the firm’s Wonga West mine would be cut from the application and resubmitted separately to NSW Planning, meeting documents say.
The company would not expand its mine under the Cataract Reservoir, and rather than mining nine longwalls at its Wonga East site, the documents indicate the company would establish eight shortened or realigned longwalls.
Gujarat still aims to triple coal production to three million tonnes a year over the five-year period.
Gujarat said yesterday the plans shared at the meeting were a draft of the revised mine expansion it would submit to NSW Planning.
‘‘NRE has by no means finalised its PPR [preferred project report] as there is still complex and detailed work to complete that could result in further changes,’’ a spokeswoman said.
‘‘This work is still continuing in liaison with [NSW Planning] and there may well be changes from the draft PPR as shown to the media.’’
The documents indicated Gujarat would submit a new project report to NSW Planning soon.
The spokeswoman said Gujarat was unable to answer specific questions about the draft plans revealed in the meeting because the minutes had been released ‘‘in breach’’ of planning guidelines.
‘‘It would appear that a member of the committee has not followed the protocol by releasing the minutes to the media before they had been approved,’’ she said.
‘‘Approval of the minutes should follow within the week and when this has been done we will be more than willing to answer the questions raised by the Mercury.’’
Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining spokeswoman Kaye Osborn said her group’s concerns about the health and environmental impacts of the mine remained despite the changes to Gujarat’s plan.
‘‘This reduction means nothing for the neighbourhood around the mine, because the mining infrastructure and the amount of coal taken out will still be increased to three million tonnes a year,’’ Ms Osborn said.
‘‘And while there is a decrease in the length of the longwalls in the Sydney Water Catchment area, that is not enough because we believe it is not appropriate to be doing three-tier longwall mining under this area.’’
She urged NSW Planning to put the ‘‘vastly different’’ proposal back on public exhibition to give the public the chance to examine the changes in detail.
The story should have said the company could slash the life of its Russell Vale mine expansion from a planned 18 years to five.
The overall mine life remains at 30 years.
The original proposal has not been turned down by NSW Planning and is still under consideration, but was rejected by several major NSW government agencies and Wollongong City Council due to environmental concerns and a lack of information.
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