Toronto resident fears mine subsidence

TORONTO resident David Howe says he fears subsidence from a planned Centennial Coal mine could damage his house.

Centennial's Newstan Lochiel mine is planned to go under his house.

"I'm asking Centennial to make a minor adjustment," Mr Howe said.

"I want to make sure my house or driveway isn't going to disappear down a hole one day. I'm not against mining, but maybe they could avoid one small section where it goes under residential houses."

Centennial spokeswoman Katie Brassil said the company had contacted affected residents and invited those with "any questions or concerns to contact us direct".

Ms Brassil said a mine subsidence district was established in west Lake Macquarie in 1979 with development controls to "ensure homes and other structures will tolerate expected levels of subsidence".

She said the company had completed its "conceptual mine plan" for Newstan Lochiel. The mine stretches from Toronto West to Eraring Power Station's ash dam.

Centennial has lodged a briefing paper for the mine plan to the NSW Department of Planning showing Centennial adjusted its project application area to include thousands of houses at Toronto, Blackalls Park, Fennell Bay, Fassifern, Awaba and Arcadia Vale.

But Ms Brassil said the company would not be mining under those areas. She said the application area was "lines on a map to generally reflect colliery holdings".

Mr Howe owns one of the few residential properties that the mine is planned to go under.

The briefing paper listed the possibility of subsidence affecting property as a "significant risk".

Ms Brassil said the mine had been designed to "avoid, if possible, and minimise potential impacts on any surface features".

The mine is planned under bush and the power plant's ash dam, which contains heavy metal pollutants. Mining under the ash dam would require approval from the state government's dam safety committee, the briefing paper said.

A further risk was the mine damaging groundwater aquifers.

The mine plan includes extracting up to 4.5 million tonnes of coal a year for 20 years.

The Newcastle Herald reported in January that Newstan's coal preparation plant and washery planned to process up to 8 million tonnes of coal a year, double the amount the company is permitted to process at the plant now.

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