Wollongong Coal has received the green light to complete a major mine expansion at its Russell Vale coal operation in New South Wales. The IPC has granted Wollongong Coal an approval to extract up to 3.7 million tonnes of coal over five years using bord and pillar mining methods at Russell Vale. Wollongong Coal will be required to ensure there are negligible leakage and reduction in water quality of the nearby Cataract reservoir, as one of its guidelines to continue the project. It also must ensure that Russell Vale does not significantly change water quality or flow rate and implement noise mitigation bunds, walls and barriers prior to mining operations commencing.
The New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has been carefully assessing Wollongong Coal’s application for the development since its submission in September. The IPC held a two-day public hearing, as per the request of New South Wales Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes to hear the community’s views about the projects. Issues of concern raised included water resources, subsidence, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, bushfire risk, mine waste, noise, visual amenity, socio-economics, traffic and transport. The IPC found that the bord and pillar mining method is unlikely to cause significant surface disturbance and reduces the risk of swamps as a result of mining activities. After vigilant consideration, the IPC granted Wollongong Coal permission to expand Russell Vale, subject to 118 conditions.