Mine owners make "massive changes" to Tahmoor coal mining expansion plan

This artist's render shows the two long wall mines under Bargo that will no longer go ahead if the mining extension is approved. Picture: SIMEC
This artist's render shows the two long wall mines under Bargo that will no longer go ahead if the mining extension is approved. Picture: SIMEC

Longwall mines will no longer be constructed underneath Bargo in new plans released by SIMEC Tahmoor Coking Coal today.

The mining company has substantially revised its plan for the proposed Tahmoor South Coal Project in response to feedback received from the community and government agencies.

SIMEC has decided to remove from its plans two longwall mines that were to be located under the Bargo township, in order to significantly reduce subsidence effects.

The removal of these proposed longwalls will reduce the number of dwellings that would have been mined under by more than 80 per cent.

Tahmoor Coal general manager Peter Vale said the "massive changes" were made as a direct response to the feedback received during the community consultation process.

"We appreciate the time the community has taken to share their feedback with us and we understand we have an obligation to make sure the mine delivers the best possible outcome for the community," he said.

"Despite the improved outcomes from the changes to the mine plan, and substantial reduction in homes to be mined beneath, if a home owner was to experience subsidence effects to their home or water resources such as bores, they would be made good in accordance with the NSW regulator's requirements.

"While these changes have reduced the commercial outcomes of the mine that were originally hoped for, we are confident the revised plan will contribute significantly to regional stability over the next decade."

The Project Amended Report states that the two longwalls closest to Bargo were removed "to further reduce potential environmental impacts, particularly potential subsidence impacts".

"The changes will substantially reduce the number of houses and associated civil infrastructure that were predicted to be adversely affected by mine subsidence due to the extraction of the project," the revised plan stated.

"A total of 143 houses are located directly above the proposed longwalls compared to 571 houses that were located directly above the longwalls considered in the Project Amendment Report."

Tahmoor Coal is a significant employer in Wollondilly having operated in the area for more than 40 years.

If the mine's extension is approved approximately 400 jobs will be secured and mining operations will continue until 2032.

Mr Vale said job security in the region was more important than ever before.

"The majority of our employees live in Wollondilly," he said.

"It is very difficult to secure long-term employment in the region and if this plan is approved it will secure jobs for our 400 employees.

"Without this extension our mining operations would cease in 2022 but this plan extends the life of the mine."

Tahmoor Coal also intends to install a new advanced water treatment plant as soon as possible to further improve the quality of the water released from the mine.

Under the previous plan, SIMEC predicted 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.

However under the new plans released today the company predicts a net economic benefit of $664.9 million with $137.5 million to be generated in the shire.

The mine will continue to participate in important community initiatives such as Love the Dilly, and continue its strong partnerships with local schools, businesses and sporting teams where possible.

Mr Vale said he believed the revised plan would be better received by the community.

"We hope the local community will appreciate the significant changes we have made," he said.

"We have taken all of their concerns into account and achieved what we believe to be a more balanced outcome."

The amendment to the development application for the revised plan has been lodged with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) for its consideration.

For more information, visit: www.tahmoorsouth.com.au.