Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Federal environment approval for extension of Springvale Mine

Media release
14 March 2012

Environment Minister Tony Burke today approved an extension at the existing Springvale Mine north of Lithgow in NSW under national environmental law, with more than 30 strict conditions to ensure protection of the environment and ongoing monitoring arrangements.

The Springvale Mine has been operating since 1993, with longwall mining commencing in 1995. The site has operated under a number of New South Wales-based regulatory approvals and environmental impact assessments.

Project proponent Springvale Coal Pty Ltd submitted a proposal to undertake longwall coal mining for federal assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 because of its potential impact on the temperate highland peat swamps on sandstone ecological community.

Mr Burke said the stringent conditions would ensure the longwall mining in an area of 330 hectares at the underground mine site was done in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

"My decision is based on a thorough and rigorous assessment of the proposal taking into account the advice of my department and independent scientific advice," Mr Burke said.

"While I have considered the social and economic implications of this project, my focus has been on protecting environmental matters of national significance through strict conditions to manage any potential environmental impacts.

"In making this decision I took into consideration advice on monitoring and management arrangements from the new Interim Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Coal Mining.

"The Committee supported the condition for no mining under high quality swamps, or within buffer zones, unless the proponent can demonstrate that there is a way of conducting the longwall mining with no adverse impact to the swamps."

The stringent conditions also include comprehensive monitoring to:

  • Detect potential geological and hydrological impacts upstream of temperate highland peat swamps on sandstone;
  • Focus on surface and groundwater hydrology surface and groundwater quality, vegetation community structure and diversity, and biological indicator species; and
  • Detect any potential impacts for a period of at least 10 years post-mining.

For more information go to http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/epbc/epbc_ap.pl?name=current_referral_detail&proposal_id=5949