Bengalla, Watermark projects discussed at Planning Assessment Commission hearings

December 11, 2014

The Planning Assessment Commission’s public hearing on Rio Tinto’s $690 million Bengalla Coal mine continuation project has been met with ‘considerable support’ from local businesses and the community. 

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Pictured: An employee checking the real time environmental monitoring equipment at Bengalla mine in NSW
 
Rio Tinto is seeking approval to continue mining at its open cut thermal coal operations after its current licence runs out in 2017.
 
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has recommended that the project be approved by the Planning Assessment Commission, subject to a comprehensive and strict list of conditions.
 
Bengalla Mine Manager Jo-Anne Scarini told ABC News that "this is for a continuation of mining on land that we already own" and expressed her confidence in the project and its employees.  
 
"We've had very, very strong support to date and all of the 500 strong workforce that we have currently are looking forward to hearing how we go in that assessment process," she added.
 
There were 26 people that spoke at the public hearing, including 22 in support of the project and only 4 against. 
 
In the same week, the Planning Assessment Commission has also met in Gunnedah to discuss Shenhua's proposed Watermark mine, a $1 billion open cut coal project, near Breeza.
 
Today is the second day of public hearings for Shenhua, with people from the local community expressing their views before the panel. 
 
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has recommended approval for the Shenhua Watermark project, subject to a comprehensive list of conditions. A decision is expected in January 2015.
 
Shenhua Australia Chairman Liu Xiang told the Planning Assessment Commission panel this week, and about 100 attendees at the public hearing, that the project had been subject to “unprecedented levels of scrutiny” to ensure minimum effect on local farmers and the community.
 
Water has been one issue addressed during the planning stages of the development. A series of significant studies have been undertaken, including the Namoi Catchment Water Study which found that mining and agriculture can coexist in the region provided water use is managed responsibly. 
 
 

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