Statement from NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee
The decision by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) to refuse the Dendrobium Extension Project is a dagger at the heart of the Illawarra economy that will cost billions in investment and thousands of jobs.
NSW and the Illawarra simply cannot afford to lose this critically important Project.
The refusal of this Project will cost 700 direct local jobs at the Dendrobium mine and put the jobs of thousands more people at risk, including local contractors and suppliers, as well as thousands of jobs at the BlueScope Steelworks dependent on coal from the mine.
The Dendrobium Extension Project was subject to a rigorous whole-of-government assessment process over 19 months that found the project was approvable and that the benefits “...significantly outweigh its residual costs and that it is in the public interest.”
13 departments and agencies participated in this assessment process. Only two agencies were opposed.
The proponents went to great lengths to address the concerns raised by these agencies and this was taken into account in the final recommendation of the Department of Planning that the Project was approvable and in the public interest.
775 public submissions were also received on this Project, including 39 from special interest groups, business entities or other organisations, with 81 percent in support.
Despite this, the IPC has chosen to ignore the comprehensive whole of government assessment and instead rely on the advice of the two agencies in making its decision.
This outcome raises significant questions about the actual role of the Department of Planning and creates uncertainty for future project assessments, with potential impacts on investment and jobs for NSW.
These issues are compounded by the strategic economic importance of this project for the Illawarra and for NSW, particularly during a time of economic recovery from COVID-19.
The NSW Government must intervene to ensure this Project is approved and can proceed, as recommended by its own Department of Planning.
To do anything less will demonstrate a willingness to throw away billions in investment and the jobs of thousands of people at a time of significant economic need.