Local News

IPC holding public hearing into Dartbrook Mine Modification proposal; Friends of the Upper Hunter still unconvinced the mine will benefit


The Independent Planning Commission (IPC) is holding a public meeting into the Dartbrook Mine Modification proposal today.

The hearing is being held at the Upper Hunter Conservatorium of Music from 10am and while applications to address the hearing have closed, the public is invited to attend.

Australia Pacific Coal put forward their Dartbrook Coal Mine - Modification 7 (DA 231-7-2000 MOD7) to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment which was recommended to be approved earlier this year to the IPC.

The modification would see underground mining restart at the site southwest of Aberdeen using bord and pillar methods with a varied coal clearance system.

The site has been in care and maintenance since 2006.

It is a mine with a controversial history and during the exhibition of the initial application, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment received 42 objections.

A newly formed group called 'Friends of the Upper Hunter' has formed against the mine and held a community get together at the weekend.

Around 100 people from Aberdeen, Scone and further afield attended and one of the committee members Kirsty O'Connell said they had a surprise guest, CEO of Australia Pacific Coal John Robertson Jnr.

"This is the first time the community has had the opportunity to question this proponent,"

"He hinted that the company may not be wanting to go open cut but when pressed made it clear he was not providing any guarantees on that front and that anything could happen on that front so I think the community remain unconvinced about his claims that they don't intend to go open cut and there are very deep concerns in terms of water, in terms of air quality, in terms of safety so those things were certainly front and centre," said Kirsty O'Connell.

"The other interesting thing was his take that local jobs could mean anything from Narrabri to Newcastle so that certainly got quite a reaction from the audience,"

"He took a lot on notice."

Kirsty added that the CEO would come back to them with answers to their questions by the end of the week in enough time for them to make final submissions on the modification proposal.

"It's clear that the community is going into this Independent Planning Commission as the underdog, the company is on the front foot, they've already had the recommendation for approval by the Department of Planning and Environment."

"We need to be aware that it is critical we have community objections and community submissions if we are to have any kind of effect on the Independent Planning Commission," said Kirsty O’Connell.

Image credit: Australia Pacific Coal