Watershed moment for Shenhua Watermark

 LANDMARK DECISION: Shenhua Watermark's project manager Paul Jackson (right), pictured last year with the company's environment manager Mark Howes, has welcomed the NSW government's tick of approval for its open-cut coalmine in the Liverpool Plains.

LANDMARK DECISION: Shenhua Watermark's project manager Paul Jackson (right), pictured last year with the company's environment manager Mark Howes, has welcomed the NSW government's tick of approval for its open-cut coalmine in the Liverpool Plains.

SHENHUA Watermark's proposal to construct a billion-dollar open-cut coalmine on the Liverpool Plains has moved a significant step closer to fruition overnight.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has found the mine "should be approved" providing "strict conditions (are) put in place to minimise potential impacts on biodiversity, water resources and local communities".

The project has now been referred to the independent Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) for review and final determination.

The proposed mine would be located about 25km south-east of Gunnedah at Breeza and provide 10 million tonnes of coal per annum for 30 years.

Shenhua Watermark project manager Paul Jackson said the mine would create 1000 jobs and "unlock significant economic benefits for the local region".

"We have worked tirelessly with regulators, scientists and the community to refine this project and are confident that the project we are taking to the PAC strikes the right balance to ensure the economic and social benefits of mining are realised, while providing strict measures to protect the local environment and agricultural industries," he said.

The mine has attracted significant opposition from many farmers in the Liverpool Plains concerned at its potential impact on the local agriculture industry.

For the full story, including local reaction, see tomorrow's edition of The Leader.

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