The company plans to expand the mine area to adjacent land in the coal-rich basin in an attempt to ramp up annual production capacity from 2 million to 3 million tonnes and extend the mine life by 13 years to 2030.
Commenting on the approval Whitehaven managing director Tony Haggarty said in a statement; "We welcome the federal government’s approval under the EPBC (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act) and are committed to working within the stringent conditions that have been placed on the project."
In February 2012, Whitehaven secured approval from national authorities for its Maules Creek mine proposal and Boggabri mine expansion in NSW.
The company then confirmed that the production at Maules Creek was expected to commence by 2014 with plans to increase the annual production by two-fold to 25 million tonnes.
Whitehaven owns 70% stake in the Maules Creek mine while remaining ownership is with Japanese firm Idemitsu, which also controls the Boggabri mine.
Falling coal prices have hit the company’s balance sheet, resulting in a net loss of $47m for the first half of the 2013 fiscal.
Costs tied to the closure of a poorly performing mine and the high Australian dollar have also contributed to the sharp fall in the company’s earnings.
But in the six months to December 31, Whitehaven’s coal output rose 47% to more than 3.6 million tonnes as it increased output from its new Narrabri mine in the Gunnedah Basin.
Image: Tarrawonga is an open-cut mine situated in New South Wales, Australia, and is a venture between Whitehaven Coal and Idemitsu.