The NSW Government's decision to declare the Dendrobium Extension Project as State Significant Infrastructure is a "bold and positive step that will help protect thousands of jobs and secure the long term economic future of the region" says NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee.
A South32 spokesperson also welcomed the government's decision, which was announced by Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Resources Paul Toole on Saturday.
"This marks an important step, providing a pathway for the submission of an alternate mine plan to the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, to be assessed as SSI," the South32 spokesperson said.
"We continue to consider our options to determine the best path forward for Illawarra Metallurgical Coal, to continue to supply metallurgical coal for local steel production and support local jobs and investment."
Mr Galilee said the declaration will also protect up to 10,000 local jobs, including around 700 direct jobs at the Dendrobium mine, thousands of jobs with local suppliers and contractors, and thousands more jobs at the BlueScope Steelworks at Port Kembla which relies on coal supplied from the mine.
"This important project will deliver around $1 billion in investment for NSW," he said.
"...The NSW Government should be congratulated for taking this decision, which is in the best interests of NSW.
"It is a welcome demonstration of the willingness of Premier Perrottet and his Government to act to protect jobs and the economy."
Mr Galilee said it was also important to note broad political support received in the NSW Parliament earlier this year for a motion moved by One Nation MLC Mark Latham on this issue.
"The motion called on the NSW Government to take the action announced (on Saturday), and was supported by the Liberals, the Nationals, the Labor Party, One Nation, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, and the Christian Democrats," he said.
Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said South32 had taken into consideration concerns raised by the Independent Planning Commission.
He said an SSI declaration does not change the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment's rigorous assessment of the proposal to extend Dendrobium coal mine.
South32 can now request assessment requirements to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement which will then go on public exhibition for community feedback and detailed assessment.
Illawarra Metallurgical Coal has one of the largest workforces in the region, with around 1800 direct employees.
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