Warkworth mine expansion meets resistance from local residents

By Uwear

This July, a pivotal decision by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) will decide the fate of the village Bulga, which is located in the Upper Hunter and is adjacent to Warkworth coal mine.

Although the mine has been there for decades, Bulga was also protected by ridge filled with coal. Now with the mine nearing the end of its life, mining giants Coal and Allied as well as Rio Tinto are attempting to extend the open-cut mine within 2.6 kilometres of the town.

RELATED TOPIC: To infinity and beyond: Is mining moving to space?

Now, the future of Bulga is largely in the hands of the PAC, as the Baird government will announce a change in the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) to the PAC planning panel to make a final decision in the next few weeks. The varying viewpoints have sparked debates from the mining industry on one side, along with local community groups on the other side.

The Warkworth mine has been an important part of the Singleton economy for years, as today it employs over 1,000 people. However, along with another controversial mine site, the Drayton South mine extension, many believe the expansion of coal mining is now among the most polarising issues in New South Wales.

RELATED TOPIC: What the mining industry can learn from Rio Tinto

Coal mining has been a large part of the economy for several years, but discussions of more proposed projects has been a hot-button topic. It puts a lot of pressure on both communities and farms in close proximity of the mines, as the Warkworth extension would also affect an additional 700 hectares along with as the nearby proposed Mt. Thorley extension, which is also owned by Rio Tinto.

Talk of expansion is mostly due to China’s high demand for more Aussie exports, which also includes iron ore from Western Australia, due to the Chinese Government’s urbanization policy. According to reports, nearly half of China’s population of 1.4 billion people live in rural areas of the country, many of which are struggling farmers. In addition, China’s population is expected to continue rising until year 2030, when projections show it will peak at 1.53 billion people.

RELATED TOPIC: How ALE is giving big lift to mining in Australia

Although Warkworth is expected to provide 10 per cent of the state’s export coal for the next 21 years, which many believe will outweight the environmental impact and social aspect of the expansion, the PAC argues Bulga would basically become unlivable if this happens. Only SEPP can save them now.

For more news on the mining industry, visit our sister brand Mining Global

Let's connect!  

Check out the latest edition of Business Review Australia!


Featured Articles

Hybrid live event shaping the future of Sustainability & ESG

Sustainability LIVE London returns for a two-day, multi-track conference programme featuring inspirational ESG speakers, debates and discussions

Nine must-attend sustainability events for business leaders

From London to Abu Dhabi, Singapore to San Diego, these sustainability-focused events are designed to help business leaders action their ESG goals

Daniel Weise of BCG on new supply chain and procurement book

Daniel Weise, global leader of Boston Consulting Group’s procurement business line, on the timely publication of his new book, Profit From The Source

Attract and retain talent with flexible working and benefits

Human Capital

Nurturing the next generation of women leaders in Africa

Leadership & Strategy

5 Mins With: Cybersecurity expert Ariel Parnes of Mitiga