MUSWELLBROOK council has given the shire’s oldest mine a green light to finish what it started more than a century ago.
At an extra ordinary meeting on Wednesday evening, councillors unanimously approved a Muswellbrook Coal Company development application to continue mining until mid-2022.
Muswellbrook Coal senior operations manager Grant Clouten said there was three years of resource remaining at the site, and the company was doing the right thing by the community to continue its work.
CFMEU Northern Mining and NSW Energy District vice president Jeff Drayton addressed council, and a full public gallery, to present reasons why the expansion should be approved.
“The glory days of employment, massive generation of wealth, both to the community and to the nation, from coal, have passed, albeit there has been a recent jump in the price of coal that will hopefully return some benefits,” he said.
“The importance of coal, and each and every coal project, to this community cannot be underestimated.”
Mr Drayton said the total full-time equivalent workforce at Muswellbrook Coal was about 160 full-time positions.
“Currently the mine employs 86 production and engineering employees and there are significant numbers of supervisory, administrative and technical employees totaling approximately 20 more,” he said.
The union representative said the miner had always employed directly from the local community, and any decision of council would impact directly on its residents.
“The mine also provides a stable source of income to many contractors the company [uses] for its mining operations,” he said.
Mr Drayton reassured council that stopping the expansion based on concerns of spontaneous combustion and gas-related issues was not necessary.
“The proponents have addressed methodically each of those concerns with a comprehensive and improved regime of monitoring and detection,” he said.