SIMEC re-lodges plans to extend Tahmoor coal mining project

SIMEC Mining has amended plans to extend its underground mining area in Tahmoor due to resident feedback.

The mining company released an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its Tahmoor South Coal Project early last year.

The current mine has been in operation for 40 years and was scheduled for closure in 2022, but the proposed extension would see the employment of almost 400 people continue for a further 13 years.

SIMEC's executive managing director Matt Reed said the revised plan was made in response to government and community feedback on the EIS exhibited last year.

"While the great majority of community submissions on our original plan for the mine extension were supportive and no government department objected to the proposal, we have worked hard to address some important and constructive requests and submissions that have been made by both government and the public," he said.

"The revised plan contains significant environmental impact improvements while also preserving, if not improving, important local area economic and community support benefits."

The amended statement includes reduced subsidence effects as a result of reduction in height and width of mining longwalls, substantial reduction in the extent of mine operations below existing houses and a major reduction to the expected impact on Shale Sandstone Transition Forest.

The new report also states that the company expects reduced greenhouse gas emissions

"We believe our plan for continuation of the mine's operations for a further 13 years can make an important contribution as the shire and the community work to overcome the impacts of the recent bushfires," Mr Reed said.

"If approved, the mine extension will be a major source of secure employment and related economic stimulus valued at around $160 million for the local shire over the 13 years of operations."

 The mine at Tahmoor. Picture: Mylee Hogan, 7 News

The mine at Tahmoor. Picture: Mylee Hogan, 7 News

The EIS highlighted several important issues that the proposed extended mining works would encounter.

These included impacts to Thirlmere Lakes, Aboriginal heritage sites, traffic and the economy, among others.

The EIS predicts the proposal would provide a net benefit of about $748 million throughout its life, of which up to $162 million would be generated in the Wollondilly region.

The project, if approved, is also expected to create 175 new construction jobs over the next two years.

The proposed mine extension would continue to be accessed via the existing surface facilities, with some infrastructure upgrades planned.

The EIS will now be considered by planning authorities before being assessed by the Independent Planning Commission of NSW in coming months.

SIMEC will plan community forums in this time to engage with the local community.

The first mining activity is expected to start in 2022 once a detailed extraction plan has been approved by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE).

The extraction plan will detail the process for management of all major aspects of the mining process.

During this process, mine management will contact residents living in, or who own properties located above mine activity, to brief them on any potential impacts and the process for monitoring and addressing them.

"As with the current Tahmoor operations, we will maintain regular contact with our neighbours and the community regarding the updated plan," Mr Reed said.

"The extension of mining into Tahmoor South from 2022 will ensure continuity of operations as the Tahmoor North mine plan is completed at that time."

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