Bylong coal project
The Bylong coal project was a proposed thermal coal mine which was rejected in September 2018 by the New South Wales government. It was planned for the Bylong Valley, 55 km north east of Mudgee, New South Wales, Australia.
Had it been approved the project could have operated for an estimated 25 years.
KEPCO Bylong Australia (shortened to KEPCO) is the proponent and 100% owner of the Bylong Coal Project. KEPCO is a subsidiary of Korea Electric Power Corporation shortened to KEPCO Korea. The Bylong Coal Project is KEPCO’s first 100% equity investment in Australia. Had it started the coal would have been exported to Korea.
The commission found that the negative impacts outweighed the benefits. These included the impact on productive agricultural land, after the commission rejected KEPCO's submission high quality agricultural soil could be rehabilitated; the impact on the heritage and landscape values of the Bylong valley, and climate change impacts.
KEPCO says it is currently closely reviewing the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) report to determine what options are available following the IPC’s decision.
The undated image below shows the proposed location of the project.
Coal Mine Background
On 18 September 2019, the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) announced its decision to refuse the Bylong Coal Project.
Following review of the Project by the former Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) in July 2017 and a letter from the Department to Bylong Coal Project dated 28 May 2018, the Applicant submitted the Bylong Coal Project – Supplementary Information Report (Supplementary Information Report) to the Department in July 2018, which provided details of a Revised Mine Plan. The May 2018 letter stated that the Department “considers that revisions to the proposed mine plan are required to adequately avoid and minimise the potential impacts on the heritage values of Tarwyn Park and surrounding landscape” and that “no open cut mining or overburden emplacement should be permitted on the Tarwyn Park property; and overburden emplacement areas should be redesigned to minimise the visual impacts and maximise the integration of the proposed final landform with the surrounding topography”.
Further to the Revised Mine Plan, the Department recommended a set of conditions (Final Proposed Conditions) in its Final Assessment Report to amend the Project in line with the Revised Mine Plan and prohibit the construction of the workforce accommodation facility and the open cut mine on the historic Tarwyn Park property. The Commission noted that despite providing an assessment of the Revised Mine Plan, the Applicant did not formally amend its development application. The Commission therefore assessed the Project on the basis that approval is being sought for the Project as originally proposed in the Environmental Impact Statement submitted with the development application.
The Newcastle Herald reported, "Long-term environmental costs of approving the mine, including the contribution to climate change, will be borne by future generations" and was not in the public interest, the commission found in a long-awaited decision"
"The commission is of the view that the distribution of costs and benefits over and beyond the life of the mine is temporally inequitable in that the economic benefits accrue to the current generation and the environmental, agricultural and heritage costs are borne by future generations," it found.
There was also a "reasonable level of uncertainty" about the economic benefits, the commission said."
In the wake of the IPC's refusal for the mine, it was reported in February 2020 that KEPCO has written off the the project. According to the Newcastle Herald in Australia, the company's board marked down the value of its Bylong mining rights from $Aus642 million to zero in a report to the South Korean stock exchange in early January. Commenting on this decision, Tim Buckley at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis said the write-off "doesn't mean that KEPCO has walked away, but it clears the deck should they formally decide to walk".
- Sponsor: Bylong Coal Project
- Parent Company: KEPCO Korea
- Location: 55 km north-east of Mudgee
- GPS Coordinates: -32.451139, 150.143913 (exact)
- Status: Cancelled
- Production Capacity: 6.5 million tonnes (run of mine) per annum
- Total Resource:
- Mineable Reserves: 124 million tonnes
- Coal type: Thermal
- Mine Size: 6,958 hectares
- Mine Type: Open cut and underground
- Start Year:
- Source of Financing:
Articles and resources
- Bylong Coal, "Home", Bylong Coal website, accessed 21 January 2020.
- Planning and Environment, "Statement of reasons for decision", page 4, New South Wales Government website, 18 September 2019.
- Bylong Coal, "About", Bylong Coal website, accessed 21 January 2020.
- Joanne McCarthy, "Landmark ruling rejects coal mine because of intergenerational inequity", Newcastle Herald website, 18 September 2019.
- Bylong Coal, "Project Approvals", Bylong Coal website, accessed 21 January 2020.
- Planning and Environment, "Statement of reasons for decision", page 3, New South Wales Government website, 18 September 2019.
- Planning and Environment, "Statement of reasons for decision", page 5, New South Wales Government website, 18 September 2019.
- KEPCO says Bylong mine proposal has no value after refusal in September, Newcastle Herald, Feb. 7, 2020.
- Planning and Environment, "Statement of reasons for decision", page 1, New South Wales Government website, 18 September 2019.