Three-zone coal exploration in Hunter, Central West banned by NSW government

The New South Wales government admits that the market has turned its back on the construction of new coal mines and focused on expanding existing operations as it excludes more exploration zones.

The potential of greenfield mines in the Central West and Hunter regions faced community opposition for years after the state government designated tens of thousands of acres of land suitable for potential coal exploration.

In 2017, it considered the ‘Wollombi’ zones in the Hunter region and ‘Ganguddy-Kelgoola’ and ‘Wollar’ in the Central West as part of the Future of Coal Declaration, a strategic plan so that it would “control the release of reconnaissance areas”.

Mr Toole told today that the budget estimates were now considered inappropriate due to the environmental and economic implications of greenfield infrastructure.

Protesters outside the Bathurst office of Deputy Prime Minister Paul Toole hold placards
Protesters from Lithgow to Dubbo appealed to the Deputy Prime Minister not to allow mining approvals after 2038 in the central west.ABC Central West: Xanthe Gregory

It comes less than a week after more than 60 people representing 13 local environmental groups protested against further coal exploration in the region outside his voter’s office in Bathurst.

“These three areas will now be removed from the map associated with the strategic statement of coal exploration and mining,” said Mr Toole.

The recommendations came from the Interagency Advisory Body of Strategic Release.

The deputy prime minister said there was a clear market shift in interest in building new coal mines.

“Instead of looking at greenfield sites, we’re looking at existing mining sites and whether they can expand or expand that site,” he said.

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