Bulga Coal Optimisation Project and Blakefield North Underground Mine

Bulga Coal Management Pty Ltd has consent for the Bulga Coal Optimisation Project (BOP). The EIS was submitted in 2013 and in January 2014 the NSW Minister for Planning and Infrastructure requested that the NSW Planning Assessment Commission review the project and conduct a public hearing (SLR Consulting Australia Pty Ltd, 2014, p. 2−3). The NSW Planning Assessment Commission public hearing regarding the project was held on 25 June 2014 and development consent for the BOP was given on 1 December 2014 (NSW Department of Planning and Environment, 2015a).

The BOP expands and continues the Bulga open-cut mining operations to access 205 Mt of coal from seams within and beneath the existing open-cut mine until 2035 (increasing current approved operations by an additional 11 years) (NSW Department of Planning and Environment, 2014a, p. i). Continuing operations to the previously approved 12.2 Mt/year will extract coal from three contiguous pits (Main Pit, South Pit and East Pit) and proposes one smaller pit (Bayswater Pit). The proposal includes two new out-of-pit overburden emplacements, realignment of infrastructure currently within the proposed footprint, continued use of the coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP) and the Saxonvale Rail Loop to transport coal via rail to Newcastle Port. There will be progressive rehabilitation of over 2500 ha of native woodland species and a biodiversity offset strategy incorporating 1500 ha of existing native woodland to compensate for 611 ha that will be cleared as a result of the project (NSW Department of Planning and Environment, 2014a, p. i−ii, p. 1, p. 5).

Infrastructure will include the construction of a new 3000 ML water storage dam (Northern Dam), sewage treatment plant, upgrades to the existing CHPP and new conveyors (NSW Department of Planning and Environment, 2014a, p. 8). The optimisation project requires up to approximately 6900 ML of water per year that will be supplied by captured rainfall, groundwater inflows and licensed extraction from the Hunter River. The existing water management system will be augmented by the construction of a new 300 ML water dam (Northern Dam). Total operating life will be 21 years (NSW Department of Planning and Environment, 2014a, p. 6).

Last updated:
18 January 2019
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