EMPLOYMENT and the local economy were two of the key topics discussed on the second day of public hearings into the Vickery Extension Project on Friday.
Speakers from across the region addressed the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) during the final hearings, expressing a wide variety of views.
Macquarie University's department of geography and planning lecturer Dr Allison Ziller questioned whether the number of jobs the project would create could be impacted by automated technology.
"The proponent says this project will deliver 450 operational jobs, as you will be aware, a lot of reliable public agencies such as the ABS advise that employment in mining is declining," Dr Ziller said.
"One of the reasons for this is the automation of the industry. I note that Whitehaven advised the department earlier this year that it 'has no plans to introduce an automated mining fleet into the project'.
"I also note Whitehaven advised its shareholders in its most recent annual report that it had already introduced six automated haulage trucks at Maules Creek and that it was likely to do so at the approved Vickery mine."
Boggabri bio-diversity offset contractor Graham McRae said the project offered employment opportunities to future generations.
"In my opinion, the Vickery Extension Project should go ahead," Mr McRae said.
"A couple of my own kids worked with Whitehaven at Maules Creek and my son still works with me on the bio-diversity offsets."
Mr McRae said employment was key to keeping towns like Boggabri alive.
"This is another way of ensuring our kids don't have to move away unless they want to," he said.
"If they stay there's jobs and good jobs, which would set them up for a bright future.
"The town doesn't have big shops or anything like that, but the businesses here are miles in front of where they were 15 years ago."
The IPC will now consider the submissions and make a decision on the project in the coming months.