WHITEHAVEN Coal has begun the process of seeking to extend its underground mine near Narrabri, despite the fact the mine's exploration licence is still suspended.
The proposal would see coal extracted to the south of the current mine via the underground longwall mining method already being used.
If approved, it would extend the lifetime of the mine from 2031 to 2045.
Whitehaven has requested a Secretary's Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) from the state government, which will outline what studies the mining company must carry out.
The Leader understands the mining company has already begun a number of studies in preparation for the next step, the Environmental Impact Study (EIS).
In August, the state's mining watchdog suspended the mine's exploration licence for building unauthorised tracks in the Pilliga Forest.
Resources Regulator said the mine's actions showed a "comprehensive failure" to follow "fundamental regulatory obligations".
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