Bengalla mine given new lease of life

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Bengalla coal mine Image credit: flickr user: Lock the Gate Alliance

The New South Wales Government has approved a new Development Consent that will allow the Bengalla mine near Muswellbrook, NSW, to continue mining until 2038.

Bengalla coal mine Image credit: flickr user: Lock the Gate Alliance
Bengalla coal mine
Image credit: flickr user: Lock the Gate Alliance

The Bengalla coal mine is owned by Rio Tinto subsidiary Coal & Allied and partner Westfarmers Resources, which has a 40% interest in the mine. According to Westfarmers, the clearance will also allow the mine to boost the thermal coal output to 15 million tonnes a year from 10.7 million.

Wesfarmers Resources Managing Director Stewart Butel said the approval secured the long term future for the mine and its workforce, and allowed for potential increase in the number of employees should a decision be made to expand production to the maximum approved limit in the future.

“This is very good news for the workforce of 400, their families and the local community. We have been an integral part of the Muswellbrook community since operations began 16 years ago and we look forward to continuing this into the future,” Mr Butel said

“Importantly our future operations at the mine will move further away from Muswellbrook on land already owned by Bengalla and Coal & Allied. We acknowledge that the approval comes with comprehensive conditions and we are committed to continuing to work closely with the community and upholding our high standards of environmental management.”

The Bengalla mine approval comes just days after Rio Tinto dismissed its energy division chief and placed its coal mining segment within its copper division – a move which analysts interpreted as a signal of intent that the company was looking to ditch its coal business due to plummeting coal prices.