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Upper Hunter Shire Mayor says there are "mixed emotions" about the IPC's decision to allow Dartbrook mine even for a short time


Upper Hunter Mayor Wayne Bedggood says they have "mixed emotions" about the Independent Planning Commission's decision to approve the Dartbrook mine to recommence mining until 2022.

The IPC has approved the Australia Pacific Coal project to recommence operations using bord-and-pillar methods in the underground mine. 

The mine has been in care and maintenance since 2006 due to operational issues and low coal prices. 

The company was seeking to restart operations with an extension to their current approval which is until 2022. They did want to extend until 2027 but the IPC gave plenty of reasons why that was not in "the public's interest".

There is a lot of opposition to the mine including from Upper Hunter Shire Council.

"Council's got mixed emotions about this," said Mayor Wayne Bedggood.

"Certainly the approval for the bord-and-pillar mining to go ahead until 2022 flies in the face of our position statement where we don't condone coal extraction either above ground or below,"

"But we do applaud to deny the actual extension, the five year extension to the license."

"I think there was sufficient grounds there for the Commission to deny the actual procedure, the bord-and-pillar part of it, the fact that they have denied the extension of it probably brings the economics of that mine into question anyway."

"They've denied the extension to that probably knowing full well that the mine was heading towards an open cut which the company itself has actually expressed and certainly they've given plenty of reasons there and plenty of those reasons came up at the public hearings about the reasons why it shouldn't proceed and there are any numbers of reasons there that they have stated," said Mayor Bedggood.

The Commission concluded that partial approval of the application is acceptable because “mining operations have been approved until 2022 and bord and pillar mining has been acknowledged by the Proponent and Department as a less intensive and environmentally-impacting activity than longwall mining.”

The IPC also noted that the Proponent had committed to seal a haul road to reduce dust emissions and had proposed “reasonable and feasible” measures to minimise noise impacts and mitigate flood risks.

The IPC has also listed reasons as to why they haven't approved the mine to continue until 2027 including noise, air quality, subsidence, groundwater and greenhouse gas emissions "that haven't been fully considered in this application".

'Friends of the Upper Hunter' is a group that formed in a bid to stop the mine from going ahead and they say they're very disappointed in the decision that has been made by the IPC.

Image credit: IPC