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.
Copper production from top ten companies to increase by 3.8%
Copper production from the world’s top companies is set to increase by up to 3.8% this year, following a fall of 0.2% in 2020, GlobalData analysis reveals. Last year’s marginal slump saw production drop to 11.76 million tonnes (Mt).
The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mining operations was immense, however, six of the ten largest copper producers succeeded in increasing output last year. In 2021, copper production from the top ten copper companies is expected to bounce back, rising by up to 3.8%, to reach 12.2Mt, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
The highest increase in copper production was by Canada’s First Quantum, which, despite all the challenges, reported 10.4% growth in 2020. The company’s Sentinel mine in Zambia and Cobre Panama were key contributors to this growth. While the latter remained under care and maintenance between April and August 2020, it delivered record production levels during the subsequent months.
Codelco, the world’s largest producer of the red metal used in electric vehicles, also bucked the trend.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, commented: “Despite Codelco reporting over 3,400 active cases during July 2020, the company achieved 1.2% growth in its production in 2020. The company implemented a four-phase plan, as part of the COVID-19 measures, to ensure the health and safety of its employees, while also avoiding any significant impact to its copper output.”
Although the overall impact was minimal, declines in production were observed from Glencore (8.2%), Antofagasta (4.7%), BHP (3.9%) and Freeport McMoRan (1.3%). Reduced operational workforces due to COVID-19 measures, lower ore grades and production halts due to maintenance were the key disruptors to output during 2020.
The move towards electric vehicles and clean energy from renewables sources such as solar panels and wind turbines has driven the copper price to all-time highs. Copper has been among the best performers over the last month where metals ranging from aluminum to iron ore have surged to their highest prices in years. The rally is being fueled by stimulus measures, near-zero interest rates and signs that economies are recovering from the global pandemic.