YANCOAL’S Hunter Valley Operations South mine near Singleton has been granted a 25 per cent increase in production capacity, with the Independent Planning Commission allowing production to increase from 16 million tonnes a year to 20 million tonnes of run-of-mine or “raw” coal.
The commission (formerly the Planning Assessment Commission) made its decision in line with recommendations from the Department of Planning and Environment.
The decision means the mine can go deeper than previously, leaving a larger final void with steeper sides.
The new consent would give Yancoal access to another 57 million tonnes of coal without significantly adding to its existing environmental and social impacts.
Hunter Valley Operations South is run in conjunction with another mine, Hunter Valley Operations North, on the other side of the Hunter River.
The commission noted that although it lifted the South mine’s maximum production to 20 million tonnes a year of raw coal, the Hunter Valley Operations coal washery only had a licensed capacity of 16 million tonnes a year.
This meant that either the North mine’s approval conditions would need to be modified to allow the washery to handle the extra coal, or the company would have to build the proposed Lemington coal washery at the South site, which had already been approved.