Approval for Whitehaven’s Maules Creek coal project delayed

The Australian government said it needs another three months to evaluate the environmental impact of Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek project.

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The miner said on Thursday February 7 that the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities and the federal environment minister Tony Burke have extended the timeframe for consideration to April 30.

“We are extremely disappointed at this further delay to this important project,” Whitehaven md Tony Haggarty said in a statement.

The approval process for Maules Creek started in August 2010 and has included “extensive community and stakeholder consultation and specialist expert assessments of environment impacts”, the statement noted.

The project received an approval from the New South Wales Planning Assessment Commission in late 2012.

“Whitehaven is not aware of any substantive issues with the environmental evaluations or process which has been followed,” Haggarty said.

Located in the Gunnedah Basin in north-west New South Wales, Maules Creek is expected to start mining operations in the second half of 2013 with saleable production exceeding 10 million tpy from 2016.

Maules Creek will produce semi-soft coking coal and thermal coal.