Narrabri coal mine extension has been earmarked for approval by the New South Wales Government. The Narrabri coalmine, an underground mine which is operated by Whitehaven coal was supposed to operate until 2031 however, it is now underway for an extension of 13years until 2044.
A public hearing into the project began on 14th February and heard evidence from the department of planning that the mine’s emissions which are generated when gases leak could increase significantly. Nic Clyde, the NSW community coordinator of Lock the Gate, told the commissioners that the expansion was to an underground area towards the south that would release high levels of the potent greenhouse gas methane. Clyde stated the expansion project would be out of line with the stated policy goals of NSW to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 because, the project would emit an equivalent of 1.36 million tonnes of CO2 every year, making it the dirtiest coalmine in Australia. Clyde urged the commissioner to reject the project when he gave three reasons stating: the site is not suitable for a new coalmine expansion, it is not ecologically sustainable and it is not in the public interest.
On the other hand, Whitehaven coal argues its product is among the cleanest in the world and is exported for use in high efficiency. They said if the mine expansion was approved, they would be supporting the current 520 jobs at the mine by an extension of 13years, adding about 20 new construction jobs and adding $259m in royalties to the government. Also, they stated the region’s business community is quite optimistic about the benefits the project to the North-West region.
Mr. Smith from the Narrabri Industrial Network agrees with this by saying there are many companies that have benefited from the opportunities the coal industry has created for the region, which will only increase more diverse sustainability. But Ms Sally Hunter a Boggabri Landholder questioned why the project approval was being considered nine years ahead of when it would actually come into effect because the strength of the thermal industry could change within the space of 9years.
A second day of hearing has been scheduled for Friday the 18th of February 2022, when the government and Whitehaven coal are scheduled to address the commission.