Mount Thorley

The New South Wales (NSW) Planning Assessment Commission (PCA) will conduct a public hearing in Singleton to hear more submissions from the public with regard to an extension of Rio Tinto‘s Mount Thorley Warkworth open-cut coal mine.

The hearing, to be held on 7 September, will consider the impact of the project on the back of proposed changes to State Environmental Planning Policy.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes has directed PAC to hold the public hearing on applications to continue operating the 30-year old mine.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Stokes saying: "A public review for the [Rio Tinto] project will be held to ensure a fair opportunity for everyone to comment on the proposal."

According to Rio Tinto, the proposed change to the mining policy was a change that was made at the end of the assessment process.

In June, the NSW Government released a proposed draft amendment to the SEPP that considers the significance of mined resources when determining mine projects.

Stokes said that the amendment requires decision makers to consider the likely environmental, social and economic impacts of a mining development.

Opponents of the extension claim that the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine, which employs 1300 people, will come within 2.6 km of the nearby hamlet of Bulga and fear a further expansion will bring the open pit even closer.

Image: Rio Tinto’s Mount Thorley Warkworth mine employs 1300 people. Photo: Copyright © 2014 Rio Tinto.