The Federal Government has approved an extension at the existing Springvale Mine north of Lithgow in New South Wales, with Environment Minister Tony Burke announcing over 30 conditions to ensure environmental protection.


Operating since 1993, the Springvale Mine has operated under a number of NSW based regulatory approvals and environmental impact assessments.


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


"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.