Locals will be able to have their say on Whitehaven Coal’s proposed Vickery Coal Mine extension from today, when its environmental impact statement goes on public display.
Whitehaven Coal chief executive officer Paul Flynn said that, with a capital cost of about $700 million, the extension was one of the most significant planned investments in the region.
Despite farmers claiming they were turned away from Thursday’s announcement, Mr Flynn said the EIS would be on public display for 42 days, a period longer than the standard.
“I think it is an appropriate amount of time,” Mr Flynn said.
“It is longer than the standard process and I think it is fair given that the project is well understood.
“The 42 days is a chance for everyone to look at the few incremental changes we have made to the project and I think that is an appropriate amount of time.”
If approved, the project is expected to create 500 jobs during construction, 450 jobs during operation and contribute $271 million in local wages.
“We have always said local communities should be the beneficiaries of our presence here and Vickery means exactly that,” Mr Flynn said.
“New jobs, more direct investment in the economy and a more prosperous and stronger community overall.”
The announcement comes more than 10 months after the company announced a change in the proposal.
This will involve moving the site’s boundary away from the Namoi River and scrapping the Blue Vale section of the project.
“Because we are building on an existing approval, and on an area that has already been mined, the community can have real confidence that the scientific and technical work underpinning the EIS is robust and that the mine can proceed safely,” Mr Flynn said.
“Already, we have had over 400 interactions with local community members about Vickery.
“Our recent decision not to mine the Blue Vale Pit next to the Namoi River shows that not only are we listening, we are taking real steps to act on community feedback.
“In fact, community engagement is so important to us that we have launched a new website specifically designed to give locals information, answer questions and make a submission.
“We are also encouraging locals to visit the NSW Department of Planning and the Environment website to make a submission before October 26.”
Included in the extension will be a start of the art rail network which is set to eliminate the need for trucks to transport coal.
“To be able to invest in a rail linkage takes the whole notion of road haulage of coal away,” Mr Flynn said.
“Tarrawong has got plenty of life left, so we think the better answer is to put a central processing facility up on site at Vickery.
“Using the rail linkage we can then bring the Tarrawong coal into the Vickery site for processing and in some cases washing.
“From there it is off to the port of Newcastle.”
The EIS will be on public display for 42 days.
During that time, people will be able to make submissions raising any concerns or objections they may have about the proposal.