NSW Health raises concerns about air quality impacts of Rix's Creek expansion

Rix's Creek mine
Rix's Creek mine

NSW Health has advised the Department of Planning that there is no level of air pollution which does not have a potential adverse impact on human health. 

As part of its submission about the Rix’s Creek open cut mine extension near Singleton, the Department of Health said: “While the Environmental Impact Statement focuses on assessment criteria we note that there is no evidence of a threshold below which exposure to particulate matter is not associated with health effects.”

“Therefore, it is important that all reasonable and feasible measures are taken to minimise human exposure to particulate matter.”

The impact of the proposed extension on air quality was among a number of issues that the Independent Planning Commission identified in its draft report that required more consultation and information. 

NSW Health said modelling had shown the multiple residential areas around the mine would experience increased coarse particulate pollution. 

“If the project is approved it will be important to consider the need for mitigation of impacts beyond traditional acquisition zones, the impact on residential expansion surrounding the mine and targeted interventions such as those promoted through the Dust Stop Program.” 

Bloomfield Collieries Limited is seeking to expand the open cut coal mine and continue operations until 2038. 

It is estimated an additional 25 million tonnes of product coal, with royalties of almost $100 million, would be recovered over that period. 

More than 20 submissions and presentations – both for and against – were made about the proposal.

“The Independent Planning Commission’s preliminary view is that “if the applicant can satisfactorily address the various recommendations contained within this review report the project may have merit,” a statement said. 

“However, the commission notes “that its view may change on any determination decision, including because of the provision of additional information in response to this review, information provided to the commission independently of this review...”.

The conclusions contained in the review report represent the commission’s preliminary views. The proposal now returns to the applicant and the department for response and final assessment. 

It will come back to the commission at a later date for determination.