Figure 5

Figure 5 Central West subregion showing company exploration and mining leases and mining lease applications

Source data: NSW Department of Trade and Investment (2013) Ulan Coal Mines Continued Operations Project

UCML, owned by Glencore, straddles the Great Dividing Range and includes parts of several catchments (detailed in Ulan Coal, 2012, p. 37) (Figure 5). UCML has extended its mining activities within this complex recently as part of a 21-year conceptual plan for the Ulan Mine Complex (Project Approval 08_0184 under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979) known as the Ulan Continued Operations Project (NSW Department of Planning, 2010, p. 2; Umwelt, 2011, p. 1). In addition to its mining leases, Glencore owns ELs 5573 and 7542 which are situated at Ulan No. 3 underground and Ulan West respectively. The mining complex has multiple operations all existing within the site and the recent ‘Continued Operations Project’ is now largely operational. Previously a concrete batching plant was proposed and approved but construction is not presently planned (B Anderson (Glencore), 2014, pers. comm.).

Ulan No.3 underground

Ulan No.3 is expected to progress northwards for up to 18 years (NSW Department of Planning, 2010, p. 9). Approximately 19 Mt of coal will be mined underground from the Ulan Seam using longwall methods, at depths of 30 to 110 m below ground (NSW Department of Planning, 2010, p. 9). Access to Ulan No. 3 underground mine will be via an existing road off Ulan Road, about 6.6 km north of the Cope Road junction (NSW Department of Planning, 2010, p. 9). Modifications will allow continuation of mining at Ulan No. 3. No additional water sources will be sought at the mine for the progression of Ulan No. 3 as UCML currently generates water in excess of its operational requirements, predominantly sourced from underground dewatering and surface collection from disturbed ground (Umwelt, 2009, p. 2.16). Cobbora Coal Project

The Cobbora Coal Project is a proposed open-cut coal mine that will primarily supply thermal coal to NSW power stations including Bayswater and Liddell in the Upper Hunter Valley and Eraring and Vales Point on the Central Coast, with remaining coal being sold on the open market (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2011, p. 1). The Cobbora Coal Project is owned by the State of NSW (Cobbora Holding Company Pty Limited, 2014). The Cobbora Coal Project is approximately 5 km south of Cobbora and 22 km south-east of Dunedoo (Figure 3) (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2011, p. 1), within EL 7394 (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.5) and Mining Lease Application (MLA) 0442. The project application area covers about 27,400 ha (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.5), which has been mostly cleared for agriculture (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.6). The potential disturbance area of the mine will be up to 4,700 ha (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.5).

The project will include an open-cut mine, coal handling and preparation plant, rail spur and loading facility, access roads, water and power supply, and mine infrastructure (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.1). The coal will be extracted simultaneously from three locations in the mining project area using open-cut truck and excavator operations (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. 37). Although it is unclear when the project will commence, the mine is expected to take 2.5 years to construct (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.6), and the projected life of the mine, following construction, is 21 years (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.1, ES.6). About 20 Mt/year of run-of-mine (ROM) coal is planned to be extracted (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.1), which will be processed to produce up to 12 Mt/year of product coal (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.1, ES.6). Coal quality is variable with ash content between 25 and 45%. Coal blending will be performed to achieve suitable qualities for end users (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. 35).

The coal target for the Cobbora Coal Project (CCP) is from the Gunnedah Basin, specifically the Dunedoo Formation. The main target seams are the Flyblowers Creek Coal and Ulan Upper and Ulan Lower seams (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.5, 35).

Coal will be loaded onto trains at a dedicated 28 km rail spur and balloon loop that will link to the Dunedoo-Gulong railway at Tallawang (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.6). The disturbed area of the project application area will potentially include up to 1,876 ha of woodland vegetation, 976 ha of native pasture grasslands and 1,796 ha of exotic grassland (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.12). A small area of high quality agricultural land situated close to the mining area will be avoided (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.7, ES.11). Habitat for 39 threatened species may be directly or indirectly affected by the project and of those species, 20 have already been observed in the project area, including the powerful owl, glossy black cockatoo, freshwater catfish and microbats (for full list see EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.12, 267).

It is reported that waste rock will be used to back-fill mined voids where possible or will be placed in out-of-pit areas by trucks (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. 37). Trucks will move coal to the coal handling and preparation plant where it will be crushed and moved to stockpiles for further handling (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. 37). The mine will be progressively rehabilitated (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.7).

Water demand will be up to 3700 ML per year both for dust suppression and for processing coal at the coal handling and preparation plant (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.7). Most water used will be surface water and water from within the mine in line with condition 29 of the Project Approval (NSW Government DPE, 2014. P. 14). Up to 3310 ML of water per year may be used, if required, allocated under the project’s high security water access licences from the Cudgegong River, but without affecting town or domestic and stock supplies (EMGA Mitchell McLennan, 2012, p. ES.7).

In May 2014, NSW Government approved the Cobbora Coal Project plan (NSW Planning Assessment Commission, 2014; Cobbora Holding Company Pty Limited, 2014). Commonwealth approval for the project was given on 10 July 2014 (Department of the Environment, 2014). Detailed conditions, including environmental conditions for approval have been identified (NSW Government DPE, 2014; Department of the Environment, 2014). Conditions include that: the proponent shall not extract more than 20 Mt of ROM coal from the site in any calendar year; operations will not transport more than 12 Mt of coal from the site in any calendar year; and operations may be carried out on the site for a period of 24 years from the commencement of site construction. On 6 August 2014, NSW Government called for expressions of interest (EOI) for purchase of Cobbora Coal Mine, and the EOI remains open to prospective bidders until early September 2014 (NSW Government, 2014). Phoenix Vision Coal Pty Ltd

EL 7115 is owned by Phoenix Vision Coal Pty Ltd. In 2012, Southern Cross Exploration N L stated it wished to acquire a 65% interest in this EL (Southern Cross Exploration N L, 2012, p. 4) but activities and intentions for this EL are presently unclear and in July 2014, EL 7115 was listed as ‘Renewal Sought’ by the owner (NSW Department of Trade and Investment, 2014a, p. 12).

Last updated:
5 January 2018