Environmental Impact Assessments
To facilitate Major Projects Approvals, environmental impact assessments are undertaken. A summary of each approved area is provided in the text below. Links to the Environmental Assessments completed for Austar Coal Mine are providedin the links at the bottom of the page.
The principle approvals under the New South Wales State Significant developments are Development Approval 29/95 for the Bellbird South area and Project Approval 08_0111 for the Stage 3 mining area. These approvals are linked below. The Pit Top and Coal Handling and Preparation Plant areas are covered under existing Cessnock City Council approvals.
Mining in the Bellbird South area was approved by the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning in 1996. Yancoal purchased the mine in 2004 and renamed it Austar Coal Mine. Austar lodged a modification (Mod 1) in early 2006 to allow the use of Longwall Top Coal Caving Technology (LWTCC) in Longwall panels A1 and A2 (known as Stage 1) and the construction and operation of new infrastructure. Mining in Stage 1 commenced in 2006 and was completed in December 2008.
Stage 2 mining area covers Longwalls A3 to A5a. These longwalls are located beneath privately held small rural residential properties in Quorrobolong. Modification 2 to approval 29/95(Mod 2) was lodged in September 2007 to enable continued use of LWTCC in Longwalls A3, A4 and A5. Further modifications for the Stage 2 area were lodged to:
- increase void widths and chain pillars in LWA4 and A5 in February 2009 (Mod 3), and
- use LWTCC in Longwall panel LWA5a in July 2010(Mod 4), and
- lengthen LW A5a by around 127metres (Mod 5).
Mining in Stage 2 commenced in February 2009 and was completed in January 2013.
Bellbird South LWB1-LWB7 mining area comprises seven longwall panels beneath privately held and Austar owned small rural residential properties in Quorrobolong within the Bellbird South and Ellalong Colliery areas. A modification (Mod 6) to extend the Bellbird South consent area to cover three conventional longwall panels (LWB1-B3), and extend the life of the Bellbird South Consent by 5 years to allow time for extraction was approved on 29 January 2016. A further modification (Mod 7) to permit extraction of four additional longwall panels (LWB4-B7) was approved on 25 August 2017. Longwall extraction commenced in LW B2 in July 2016 and was LW B3 was completed in August 2017.Operations are currently in Longwall B4
Planning approval PA 08_0111 was granted by the NSW Minister for Planning in September 2009 to permit the extension of mining to the Stage 3 area (Longwalls A7 to A19), east of the Bellbird South operations. There have been three modifications to this approved mining area:
- Modification 1 (Mod 1) was an administrative modification that deleted two words from a condition of consent and was approved in May 2010.
- Modification (Mod 2) sought to reorient the longwall panels and was approved in March 2012.
- Modification 3(Mod 3) was approved in December 2013 to extend the length of Longwalls A7 to A10.
Longwall extraction in Stage 3 commenced in June 2013 in LWA7. LWA8 was completed in June 2015, followed by the Development of Longwalls B1 and B2.