Wollongong City councillors have delivered a rebuke to comments from planning staff that few people cared about the expansion of Russell Vale colliery, voting to oppose the project.
The council will now write to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) formally objecting to Wollongong Coal's plans, after a motion by Greens councillor Cath Blakey was passed at Monday night's meeting.
This was "on the basis of community concerns of increased heavy vehicle traffic, dust, noise, threat to the drinking water catchment, Aboriginal heritage sites and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as Wollongong Coal's poor track record on workplace safety, debt servicing and operating compliance", Cr Blakey's motion read.
Councillor Cameron Walters tried to have the objection watered down to expressing "concern" but this amendment was defeated. Cr Blakey's motion was passed unanimously.
Council would also request compliance with older outstanding obligations - demanding "the payment of security bond to Wollongong Council, the remediation of the Russell Vale Emplacement Area to an agreed final landform and the dedication of the parcel of golf course land to council" be part of any approval.
The council's move was welcomed by Wollongong's Protect Our Water Alliance.
"It is heartening to see Wollongong City Council recognise the very serious impact that coal mining in the water catchment has on local residents," spokesman Craig Perritt said.
"More than five million people rely on the water collected by our precious catchment, and when we think back to last summer's drought and horrific fire season, it's easy to see why looking after our water catchment is so important."
It's easy to see why looking after our water catchment is so importantCraig Perritt
Council representatives had earlier told the IPC they had "not really" had any residents' comments about the effect of the mine. This infuriated environmentalists who had been speaking out for several years.
Council's planning support manager Ron Zwicker told the IPC that other than "three or four" people on the Community Consultative Committee there had been "zero comment from the wider public".
Council divisional manager of development assessment certification Mark Riordan said there had been "some concern" over the miner's compliance with previous planning conditions, but opponents were just revisiting "anxieties they had in the past".
The deadline for submissions to the IPC has been extended until this Friday.