MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian Pacific Coal said on Tuesday it was considering its options after a state regulator refused to extend the life of a mothballed coal mine, partly due to a lack of information around the proposed mine’s carbon emissions.
Australian Pacific applied last year to restart a thermal coal mine in New South Wales. The state’s Independent Planning Commission (IPC) approved the restart, but rejected a five-year extension beyond the current permit which ends Dec. 5, 2022.
The Commission said the extension for the mine would not be in line with “ecologically sustainable development or inter-generational equity”, and was not in the public interest.
“The impacts relating to air quality, noise, subsidence, groundwater and greenhouse gas emissions have not been fully considered in this application,” it said.
The ruling is the second this year to signal Australian authorities are tightening up coal mine approvals after the state’s land court ruled against developers planning to build a mine in the same region in February.
Australian Pacific said it will review the reasons for the decision and evaluate all available options for its Dartbrook mine.
“It is disappointing the IPC did not approve the additional five years of mine life,” Australian Pacific Executive Chairman John Robinson said in a statement.
Lawyers said the application had failed partly due to a lack of information, and the miner could contest the decision.
“It certainly indicates at least some members of the Commission are taking a different approach to (greenhouse gases) and climate change considerations in assessing coal mine applications,” said barrister Chris McGrath of Higgins Chambers in Brisbane.
“Given the important role played by the Commission in assessing applications, that’s a significant development even though its not binding when assessing future applications.”
The Dartbrook mine was placed on care and maintenance in late 2006 due to operational difficulties and lower coal prices.
Coal miner Whitehaven also requires planning commision approval for a proposed expansion of its Vickery coal mine. Whitehaven declined to comment.
Reporting by Melanie Burton; additional reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin