Whitehaven Coal removes ‘Blue Vale’ from EIS footprint

Whitehaven Coal will excise a portion of land – known as ‘Blue Vale’ – from the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its Vickery Extension Project (‘Vickery’, or ‘the Project’), which is expected to be lodged with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment in Q1 of 2018.

The Blue Vale ‘pit’ forms part of the site’s previous open cut mine workings and was partially mined and then rehabilitated during the late 1990s and early 2000s. It sits to the south west of the project site.

Whitehaven has sought initial feedback from the community on a range of aspects of the Project through broad based pre-EIS lodgement consultations with stakeholders including local residents, farmers, other landholders, councils, businesses and local community representatives. These consultations have indicated some sensitivity about the proximity of Blue Vale to the Namoi River, which Whitehaven recognises is a valuable water resource and ecological feature of our community.

The history of the site, and the extensive independent hydrogeological survey work undertaken by Whitehaven in support of the Vickery EIS, clearly illustrates there will be no adverse or material impacts on the Namoi River from mining.

Whitehaven Coal CEO and Managing Director Paul Flynn said the decision to remove Blue Vale from the current Vickery EIS showed the company placed a high value on the confidence the community places on Whitehaven to properly manage the shared water resources in a region with such a strong reliance on farming, agriculture and mining.

“We know the Blue Vale site has been mined safely before and we are absolutely confident in the science that any future mining activity will not affect the Namoi River. The project already has its full complement of water licences to operate, so no further draw from the river is required. We accept, however, that some in the community have questions and we trust this decision will allay those concerns.

“Co-existence occasionally means compromise. Whitehaven, as a responsible operator and significant employer in the local community, believes it is important to be responsive to local sentiment and we will work hard to build on the community’s trust and confidence in what we do.

Recent independent qualitative and quantitative research undertaken in the local area on behalf of Whitehaven Coal reveals that, across its area of operations, a majority of people believe Whitehaven listens to their concerns. The research also found that 70 per cent of people felt Whitehaven had a positive effect on the local community.

“It is important we maintain our focus on delivering the enormous local economic dividend our Vickery project offers, including continued sustained employment opportunities and local investment which has supported hundreds of businesses.

If approved, the Project will cement Whitehaven’s standing as the single largest private sector employer in the area and will require around 500 jobs during the construction phase and roughly 450 jobs during operations, the majority of which will come from the local communities of Boggabri, Narrabri, Gunnedah and surrounding areas.

The substantial local economic dividend offered by Vickery is underpinned by the fact that premium Asian markets recall the superior quality of the coal it produces, with high expectations and strong expressions of interest for this product to return to market.

There will be no material reduction in the amount of coal Whitehaven will extract over the course of the 25-year mine life as a result of the removal of the Blue Vale pit from the Vickery Project.