A proposed extension to the Tahmoor Coal Mine has gained development consent from the state's Independent Planning Commission.
But the consent comes with 168 stringent conditions to improve environmental and social outcomes.
Tahmoor Coal Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of SIMEC Mining, sought approval to extract 33-million tonnes of run-of-mine coal over 10 years from 12 new longwall panels to the south of its existing operations, between the Bargo and Tahmoor townships, 75km southwest of Sydney.
The product coal (comprising 90-95% metallurgical or coking coal; and 5-10% thermal coal) would be processed using existing and upgraded surface infrastructure and transported by rail, primarily to the Port Kembla Coal Terminal for export.
A whole-of-government assessment undertaken by the Department of Planning, Industry & Environment concluded "the benefits of the [Tahmoor South Coal] project outweigh its residual costs, [and] that the project is in the public interest and is approvable"
However, the state significant development application for the Tahmoor South Coal Project came to the Commission for determination under Ministerial delegation.
Commissioners Professor Richard Mackay AM (Panel Chair) and Professor Chris Fell AO were appointed to consider the application and make a final decision.
On Friday the Commission determined o approve the SSD application.
"The Commission agrees with the Department's findings... that the proposed extension of the existing Tahmoor Coal Mine is strategically justified and is in the public interest, and that the identified impacts can be appropriately managed through the conditions of consent imposed," the Commission's Statement of Reasons for Decision reads.
The Commission accepted there would be continued demand for coking coal over the projected life of the mine and that there are "significant environmental, social and economic benefits arising from extending the life of an existing mine that has established infrastructure and an existing environmental footprint, rather than developing a completely new mine."
Detailed consideration was given to the intensivity of the project's greenhouse gas emissions.
While concluding that those impacts were outweighed by the project's benefits, the Commission imposed conditions of consent requiring "ongoing investigation and implementation of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions".
The Commission also noted the stress caused to residents whose properties were at risk of protracted subsidence impacts from multiple longwalls.
Conditions imposed by the Commission seek to "reduce the severity and longevity" of such impacts by enabling access to appropriate compensation.
The Commission also imposed conditions requiring the shortening of two proposed longwall panels (103B and 104B) in response to potential impacts on Dog Trap Creek.
Those changes and the relocation of a proposed mine vent shaft have improved the biodiversity outcome and reduced potential impacts on known Aboriginal sites.
The Commission has imposed a total of 168 conditions on its development consent which are designed to avoid, minimise or offset adverse environmental impacts; set standards and measures for acceptable environmental performance; require avoidance or compensation for impacts to infrastructure and property; provide for regular monitoring, transparent reporting and adaptive responses; and provide for ongoing environmental management of the development.
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