SHENHUA has six months to finish a number of environmental studies and apply for a mining licence, before a clause is triggered allowing the state government to cancel its proposed Liverpool Plains coal mine.
However, the Chinese mining giant is conscious of the June 30 deadline and has recently unleashed a flurry of activity to meet it.
When the NSW government renewed the mine's expired exploration licence in mid-2018, it included a cancellation clause which allows it to terminate the project if it hadn't reached production stage by applying for a mining licence within two years.
Before Shenhua can apply for a mining licence, it must complete several environmental management plans (EMPs).
In December, the Shenhua Community Consultative Committee (CCC) meeting revealed the "target date for approvals of all the EMPs is June 30, 2020" and construction is expected to start in "early 2021".
"The plan is to have all environmental management plans approved by 30 June 2020, apply for a mining lease, and to enter a planning phase to commence early 2021," CCC documents state.
"Plans that are awaiting the next round of revisions are noise, air quality, blasting, traffic and water, and these will be re-submitted this month."
The heritage and rehabilitation plans are "currently with agencies" and the company is yet to receive comment back, while the water and biodiversity plans are "in the process of receiving comment".
The biodiversity, rehabilitation and water EMPs require federal and state government approval.
Of the EMPs to be completed, "half require external approval and the others are internal documents".
On Monday, the company commenced an "exploration drilling" program, which is expected to be finished by the end of June.
At the end of last year, Shenhua carried out a number of pre-construction activities, including geotechnical and topographical surveys.