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‘Victory for nature’: Coal miner cuts plan in Blue Mountains

Miner Centennial Coal has drastically scaled back plans for a mine extension in a sensitive area of the Blue Mountains, a move welcomed by environment groups who say rare upland swamps will be spared.

Centennial, owned by Thailand-based Banpu group, has submitted a new proposal for its Angus Place coal mine that has been mothballed since 2014. Instead of extracting about 135 million tonnes of the fossil fuel out to 2053, the revised Angus Place West project would dig up 12 million tonnes of coal over an eight-year period.

The threat of coal mining to a swamp in the Gardens of Stone area of the Blue Mountains has been reduced after Centennial Coal reduced and rewrote plans for their Angus Place mine.

The threat of coal mining to a swamp in the Gardens of Stone area of the Blue Mountains has been reduced after Centennial Coal reduced and rewrote plans for their Angus Place mine.Credit:Nick Moir

The plan, if approved, would start operations once mining at the firm’s Springvale mine winds down. It would employ as many as 200 people and ensure coal supply for EnergyAustralia’s Mt Piper power station near Lithgow.

“The proposed [extension] project represents a flexible and more immediate coal supply option” for Mt Piper, Centennial’s spokeswoman, Katie Brassil, said. It would also use so-called bord and pillar mining that typically results in less subsidence than long-wall methods.

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Environmental groups welcomed the reduced underground mining project which will also shift operations away from some 350 hectares of nationally-listed upland swamps on the Newnes Plateau.

They also hope it will open the way for the government to announce the long-awaited Gardens of Stone conservation area to help preserve the region’s remarkable rock formations.

“This is a great victory for nature, the climate and community campaigning over many years to protect the Garden of Stone from further damage by coal mining,” Chris Gambian, chief executive of the NSW Nature Conservation Council, said.

“The mine has already caused extensive ecological damage by draining and killing several wetlands of national significance. It is a relief that this threat to these unique ecosystems will now be safe.”

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