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Push to keep Mount Owen going to 2037

Trucks at Glencore’s Mount Owen operation.GLENCORE wants approval to change the way it is mining one of three open-cut pits in its Mount Owen complex to take advantage of coal resources obtained when it bought the adjacent Integra underground mine in 2015.
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An application on display with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment says the changes would allow Glencore to extract another 35 million tonnes of coal from the Mount Owen or North Pit, and to operate the mine for an extra six years, from 2031 to 2037.

Environmental group Lock The Gate Alliance has questioned why Glencore is seeking to extend the life of the minewith 13 years still to run on its license,asking whether it’s because the companyfears it may not get approval later on because of an increasingly hostile attitude towards coal.

But Glencore disputes this, saying the modification is “needed now to allow the Mt Owen mine plan to be changed to factor in”the access to the Integra tenements.

“The proposed modification will result in no changes toopen cutmining methods, annual production, hours of operation or major infrastructure,” Glencore said.

A Statement of Environmental Effects on display until August 22 says the new mining plan would disturb another 46 hectares, an increase of 1.8 per cent on the 2534 hectares in the approved disturbance area.

The new plan would also make the North Pit deeper, with the maximum depth going from 300 metres to 380 metres. A 250-metre barrier between the open-cut and underground workings would remain.

Lock The Gate Alliance NSW Co-ordinator GeorginaWoods said Glencore had bought the Integra mining titles a year before the 2016 approval it was now seeking to modify.

“Mining companies are chasingapproval for mine expansion projects well before their current approvals have reached their end,ahead of the slow pace of measures promised to protect people and the environment, particularly air quality,” Ms Woods said.

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