Airly Mine

From Global Energy Monitor

Airly Coal Mine is an underground coal mine located within the Sydney Basin, approximately 171 kilometers north of Sydney, 40 kilometers northnorthwest of Lithgow, and 4 kilometers northeast of Capertee.[1]

Location

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Background

Airly Mine was initially owned by Novacoal from 1993 to 1997, when it was sold to Centennial Coal. Centennial Coal began construction in March 1998 and mined until the mine moved to a care and maintenance phase in January 2013.[2] The first expiration date of the mining lease was set for October 2014.[3]

The mine re-opened in February 2014, and coal production recommenced in March 2014. The mine has been designed for a life of 25 years from 2009 at 1.8 Mt/year.[3] However, at a 2019 Community Consultative Committee meeting for the Airly mine, mine officials announced their goal of increasing yearly production to 3 Mt/year.[4]

In August 2015, the lease was modified to extend until April 2016.[5] The company then requested an extension to the mine for 20 years of additional mining followed by 5 years of decommissioning and rehabilitation.[3] This was approved in December 2016.[6]

The Airly mine operation uses a continuous miner system to extract coal from underground.[7] On-site facilities include a coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP), as well as a rail loop and loading facility for rail transport to Port Kembla.[1]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Centennial Airly Pty Ltd[3]
  • Parent Company: Centennial Coal[3]
  • Location: located in the Western Coalfields, within the Sydney Basin, approximately 171 kilometers north of Sydney, 40 kilometers northnorthwest of Lithgow, and 4km northeast of Capertee[1]
  • GPS Coordinates: -33.1290077733743, 149.975[8]
  • Status: operating[9]
  • Production Capacity: 1.8 mtpa[10]
  • Total Resource: 96 Mt[11]
  • Mineable Reserves: 33.7 Mt[3]
  • Coal type: thermal coal[1]
  • Mine Size: 2745[12]
  • Mine Type: underground[3]
  • Start Year: 1998[2]
  • Source of Financing:

Community Opposition

Environmental groups protested an extension of the Airly Mine’s permit by 20 years, a move that was approved in 2016 by the Planning Assessment Commission.[6] The PAC allowed the public to submit comments of opposition or support of the mining extension; they gathered 412 objections and 97 submissions in support.

Environmental groups argue that continuing mining would destabilize pagodas and cliffs that form part of Capertee Valley, which is Australia's largest canyon.

"I'm calling on the PAC to apply the precautionary principle to make sure that the tip of Genowlan Point … doesn't fall into the Capertee Valley and go extinct, and also at the same time damage the ecotourism industry," said Haydn Washington, a visiting fellow at the University of New South Wales' Institute of Environmental Studies, at a public PAC meeting in 2016.[13]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Annual Review: 1st January – 31st December 2014, Centennial Coal website, 2015
  2. 2.0 2.1 Airly Mine Reject Management Options Feasibility Analysis, GHD, April 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Current Activity and Tenements: Coal, Australian Government: Bioregional Assessment, Accessed April 12, 2020
  4. Minutes of the Airly Mine CCC meeting held at the Administration Office on 21st May 2019 at 2:00pm, Centennial Coal website, May 21, 2019
  5. Airly Mine Extension Project: Review Report, Planning Assessment Commission, November 2015
  6. 6.0 6.1 Gavin Coote, 70 jobs secured as controversial NSW coal mine extension given green light, ABC News, December 18, 2016
  7. Airly, Centennial Coal website, Accessed April 12, 2020
  8. SSD Modifications, Planning Assessment Commission, Accessed April 12, 2020
  9. Mark Carter, Australian mines turn to rail to top up drought-ridden dams, International Railway Journal, August 16, 2019
  10. Keith Muir, [https://www.habitatadvocate.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Impact_of_coal_mining_on_GoS2_Colong2010.pdf The Impact of Coal Mining on the Gardens of Stone], The Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd, March 2010
  11. "OZMIN Mineral Deposits Database", Australian Government: Bioregional Assessments, 10 June 2014.
  12. Airly Mining Lease, Centennial Coal website, May 8, 2014
  13. Gavin Coote, Planning panel hears calls to reduce size of proposed NSW coal mine extension, ABC News, October 27, 2016