Coal exploration in three zones in Hunter, Central West ruled out by NSW government

The New South Wales government admits the market has turned its back on building new coal mines and has turned its focus to expanding existing operations as it rules out more exploration zones.

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

In 2017, it deemed the zones ‘Wollombi’ in the Hunter region and ‘Ganguddy-Kelgoola’ and ‘Wollar’ in the Central West as part of the Future of Coal statement, a strategic plan so it would have “control over the release of exploration areas”. 

Mr Toole today told budget estimates they had now been deemed as not suitable because of the environmental and economic implications of greenfield infrastructure. 

Protesters outside deputy premier paul toole's bathurst office holding signs
Protesters from Lithgow to Dubbo appealed to the Deputy Premier to not allow any mining approvals beyond 2038 across the Central West.(ABC Central West: Xanthe Gregory)

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

“These three areas will now be removed from the map related to the Strategic Statement of Coal Exploration and Mining,” Mr Toole said. 

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

The Deputy Premier said there had been a clear market shift in interest in building new coal mines. 

“Rather than looking at greenfield sites, we’ll be looking at existing mine sites and whether they can extend or expand that site,” he said. 

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