Glencore wants to amend operating conditions at Integra Underground mine

MINING company Glencore has unveiled plans to extract an extra 9.9 million tonnes of coal from its Integra Underground coal mine north of Singleton.

 An Environmental Assessment and other documents on display with the Department of Planning and Environment show that Glencore has submitted a new mining plan to maximise the amount of coal it can extract from the Integra lease.

Seeking to modify its existing approval, it wants to expand three longwalls, numbers 15 to 17, and to gain approval for up to three new longwalls, 18 to 20.

It also wants to build additional surface works including new electricity lines. The area to be mined is immediately west of Glencore’s Mount Owen open-cut mine and underneath the Mount Owen rail loop, which takes coal from the Glencore operations onto the main rail lines to Newcastle.

Mine subsidence is expected to be in line with existing conditions, with vertical subsidence of between 0.3 metres and 1.9 metres.

A geotechnical assessment by consultants for Glencore found that longwall mining “directly beneath the highwall of the [Mount Owen] north pit” has the potential to induce rockfalls ... and ... slope instability” although the impacts would be managed in consultation with Mount Owen. The capital value of the project is put at $79.9 million and it would provide continued employment for 280 people.

In a newsletter to residents last year, Glencore said: “The coal market conditions continue to be a key factor for any decisions about the long term options for Integra Underground.”

That Glencore is proceeding with an application to mine the coal indicates the project has ticked the company’s economic boxes.

In a letter dated December 20, officers from the state government’s Division of Resources and Geoscience, put the value of the extra coal at $900 million over six years.

The state expects to pick up $18 million a year in royalties, or $62 million over the life of the project.

The Resources and Geosciences officers based their royalties calculations on a coking coal price of between $115 and $120 a tonne, or $US89.90 to $US93.80 at present exchange rates. (Coal is sold in $US.)

“Export income is vital for the health of both the NSW and the Australian economies, contributing to the nation’s balance of trade which provides benefits to both the NSW and Australian credit rating,” the Resources and Geosciences officers said.

“This additional export income will contribute to the around $18.2 billion (2016-17 total) of coal exports annually. Coal exports are by far the largest value export from NSW, representing around 40% of total NSW exports (both goods and services combined).”

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