The Illawarra Business Chamber has backed Wollongong Coal's bid to expand its Russell Vale colliery, saying it is a significant economic opportunity for the region.
The IBC submission to the Independent Planning Commission, which chamber executive director Adam Zarth said was written on behalf of members, also criticised the mines planning process for taking too long.
"We note that the length and complexity of the mining approvals process in NSW causes significant uncertainty within both the community and industry, which in this case had stretched out over the best part of a decade," it said.
"The IBC considers that this process is unacceptably long, ultimately deterring investment and contributing to uncertainty across the steelmaking and manufacturing sectors."
Wollongong Coal's path through the planning process has taken several years, largely because its previous expansion application was found to be inadequate and the Planning Assessment Commission, as it was then, required more detail about the impacts of subsidence on the water catchment Special Areas above.
The IBC statement was one of 513 public submissions from individuals and groups. Several Wollongong Coal staff and family members were among those writing to support the proposal.
There were 327 submissions objecting to the plan, 123 of which had their name redacted.
Of 180 submissions supporting the proposal, 78 were without names. Many of these had ticked a box to indicate support without making a written submission.
The IBC statement said the mining industry was an important value creator for the region's economy.
"The Wollongong Coal proposal represents a significant economic opportunity for the region and the state, and while the local economy continues to diversify, the IBC wishes to highlight the ongoing value and importance of jobs in the mining sector," it said.
"While the mining industry does not represent a large portion of the Illawarra's workforce, its value creation through high wages and significant operational expenditure positions it as a cornerstone industry in the Illawarra and a key driver of the region's economic prosperity."
Wollongong City Council will soon add its objection to those opposed to the proposal. Submissions on the expansion plan close at 5pm on Monday.
Wollongong Coal says its proposal would extract 3.7 million tonnes of coal over five years and would contribute a net benefit of $17 million to the Wollongong area.
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