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.
Lynas revenue jumps 21% as rare earth prices jump
Australian miner Lynas Rare Earths posted a 20.6% rise in revenue in the March quarter as selling prices for the key metals it mines hit record highs amid strong demand, particularly for neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr).
NdPr is used in magnets for electric vehicles and windfarms, in consumer goods like smartphones, and in military equipment such as jet engines and missile guidance systems.
The company said it plans to maintain production at 75% however, as it seeks to continue to meet covid-19 safety protocols and grapples with shipping difficulties. Shares in Lynas fell 6.1% after the results.
“They have faced a few logistics issues, and it would be good to know when they are going to start lifting their utilisation rates a bit,” said portfolio manager Andy Forster of Argo Investments in Sydney.
“Pricing has been pretty strong although it may have peeled back a bit recently. I still think the medium, long-term outlook is pretty good for their suite of products.”
Lynas post ed revenue of A$110mn ($85.37mn) for the three months to the end of March, up from A$91.2mn a year earlier as prices soared.
It said its full product range garnered average selling prices of A$35.5/kg during the March quarter, up from $23.7 in the first half of the financial year. “While the persistence of the covid crisis, especially in Europe, calls for careful forecasts for our business ahead, we see the rare earth market recovering very quickly,” said Lynas, the world’s largest rare earths producer outside China.
Freight demand has spiked during the pandemic, while the blockage of the Suez Canal in March delayed a shipment to April.
Lynas’ output of 4,463 tonnes of rare earth oxide (REO) during the quarter was marginally lower than 4,465 tonnes from a year earlier.