THE Bloomfield Group's plan to extend the life of its Rix's Creek South open-cut coalmine will be discussed at a public meeting in Singleton on May 20, called by the Independent Planning Commission NSW.
In a letter to stakeholders, the commission said this week that the existing development consent for Rix's Creek South would expire on June 24 this year.
It said Bloomfield had another "state significant" development application before the planning authorities, which sought to extend the Rix's Creek South operation for another 21 years.
But in a letter last month to the planning commission, the Department of Planning and Environment said this application, lodged in 2014, was unlikely to be determined before June 24, meaning Bloomfield would need its existing approval extended until the new one could take effect.
"The sole purpose of this modification application (MOD 10) is to extend the 21-year approval period for coal extraction by nine months to March 24, 2020," the commission's letter says.
The planning department told the commission it had received 28 objections to the nine-month extension, but that it had "carefully considered and addressed all public submissions" and considered the application "approvable".
The planning website shows another public 23 submissions in favour of the mine.
"Due to the minor nature of this application and the impending end date of June 24, 2019, the department requests the commission determine the modification as soon as practicable, to avoid any uncertainty or disruption to the mine's workers, contractors, suppliers and customers," the department said.
The Rix's Creek operation is about five kilometres on the Muswellbrook side of Singleton and also includes Rix's Creek North, which Bloomfield bought in 2015 and which was formerly known as Integra.
A number of the objections to nine-month extension raised an issue dating from 2017, when the department took Bloomfield to court over the mining of an area of almost 100 hectares that was allegedly outside of the approved mining boundaries.
The Land and Environment Court issued consent orders in August 2017, declaring the mine was in breach of its approval.
Most of the public submissions in favour of the extended consent stress that it would not alter any of the existing operation and would maintain employment at the mine.
Expressions of interest in speaking must be lodged with the commission by May 15, with written comments open until May 27.
In the news: