Mine extension could be polluting local water, Sydney court hears
An Australian coal mine is at the centre of a legal dispute after a court heard that an already approved extension pollutes local drinking water.
Permission for the extension of Springvale Coal mine, near Lithgow, Australia, was granted by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) back in September 2015 but the Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) has claimed that the discharge from the mine was not fully considered.
“There is an enormous amount of discharge every day, of mine water which is highly saline and contains heavy metals that will be discharged into the water catchment,” said Sue Higginson, principal solicitor, EDO.
This, Ms Higginson believes, is a contravention of a clause in the State Environmental Planning Policy, which necessitates that any development must have “a neutral or beneficial impact on the quality of water.”
Springvale Coal mine, near Lithgow, Australia, is owned by Centennial Coal and has been operational since 1992.
A Centennial Coal spokeswoman denied claims of water contamination and said the extension faced a five year assessment process before receiving approval.
"The Planning Assessment Commission imposed rigorous performance measures for discharge water which were regarded as appropriate by both the EPA and Department of Planning", the spokeswoman said.
She said the court challenge put the jobs of 300 workers at the Springvale mine at risk.
"After fighting to secure our Springvale approval, we will fight to retain it and protect the livelihoods of our local community," she said.
Hearings are expected to continue at the Land and Environment Court on Tuesday 10 May, 2016.
Read the May 2016 issue of Mining Global magazine.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.