Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) Independent Planning Commission has conditionally granted approval to Mangoola Coal Operations to extend a coal mine in the Upper Hunter Valley.

Glencore Coal’s subsidiary Mangoola Coal sought approval from the Commission to establish a new open-cut mining area to the north of existing operations at the Mangoola Mine, which is located 20km west of Muswellbrook.

For over a period of eight years, an additional 52 million tonnes (Mt) of run-of-mine coal would be extracted at the mine, with operations at the site to stop in December 2030.

The approval will extend the company’s development consent by 13 months to 2030.

At the start of this year, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) finalised its whole-of-government assessment of the Mangooal Coal Continued Operations Project, thereby concluding that it was ‘approvable, subject to comprehensive conditions’.

However, the commission is the consent authority for the development application as the department received more than 50 ‘unique’ public objections to the project.

It also received 895 written public submissions, including 776 in support, 107 objections and 12 neutral comments.

The project has been opposed due to air quality concerns, biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, impact on water resources and Aboriginal cultural heritage, among others.

As a result of concerns over air quality, the Commission discussed related trends and impacts in the Upper Hunter with the Environment Protection Authority, NSW Health and the DPIE.

Alongside the approval, the Commission imposed four conditions which include prevention of environmental impacts, standards and performance measures for acceptable environmental performance, regular monitoring and reporting and ongoing environmental management of Mangoola.

In its statement of reasons, the Commission noted: “The project represents a reasonable ‘brownfield’ extension of the existing Mangoola Coal Mine that would enable the economic and beneficial reuse of existing infrastructure and orderly and economic use of land.

“Notwithstanding the concerns raised, the Commission finds that on balance and when weighed against the impacts under the current policy and regulatory framework, the project would generate net-positive social and economic benefits for the local area, Hunter region and to NSW.”

The project will use existing infrastructure, including the Mangoola Mine Coal Handling and Processing Plant, rail loop and mining fleet, and is expected to create 145 construction and 80 operational jobs while providing ongoing employment for 400 workers.

It will also involve the development of a new haul road overpass that will connect the Northern Extension Area with the Mangoola Mine.

The project will generate up to $129m in mining royalties.