Glencore’s Amended Report for Mod 6

The amendment to the Mod 6 proposal, in response to issues raised by Government agencies, has shifted longwall mining back from Mona Creek, a tributary of the Talbragar River in the Murray-Darling Basin. This has reduced predicted coal extraction from 25 million tonnes to 16 million tonnes. However, the impacts of the project are still too great, cannot be justified and should not be approved. Ulan Mine is currently producing little more than half the approved annual extraction rate.

The Federal Independent Expert Science Committee (IESC) made significant comments:

"Modelled predictions of water interception from Ulan Mine have consistently underestimated impacted volumes. The Independent Expert Scientific Committee has limited confidence in the groundwater model used to predict impacts from this mine on surface and groundwater."

  • The Glencore Ulan Coal Mine crosses under the Great Dividing Range and takes water from both the Hunter River catchment and the Murray Darling Basin.
  • This mine already has approval to extract 20 million tonnes of coal per year until 2033. Modification 6 plans for an additional 16.3 million tonnes of coal to be extracted until 2035.
  • This mine is predicted to take over 10,500 million litres (4,400 Olympic swimming pools) of water from this sensitive landscape by 2027.
  • Groundwater is the key source of baseflows to rivers in this region.
  • Water impacts from underground mining will continue for thousands of years into the future, if not forever, because groundwater systems are destroyed through drainage and collapse into the underground void.
  • The amended Ulan Modification 6 will still damage an additional 634 hectares of landscape through subsidence, water, biodiversity, and cultural heritage impacts.
  • There is no economic analysis of the impacts of climate change. There is no justification for this project to be approved.
  • Glencore is producing 11.3 million tonnes of coal at the Ulan Mine when the current approval allows for up to 20 million tonnes per year.

Handy Links:

Glencore’s Amended Report for Mod 6
IESC Mod 6 comments
Glencore's Response to Submissions
Glencore Mod 6 Department of Planning Page
MDEG Response to Glencore
DPE-Water additional advice on Ulan Mod 6
Department of Planning and Environment 'requesting additional information'

 

Glencore's Ulan Coal Mine

This operation now covering 120 km2 was first established in the early 1980’s as a large open cut mine that diverted 3km of the Goulburn River. At the time it was the largest coal mine in the southern hemisphere. Subsequent approvals in 1998 and 2010 allow for two large underground longwall mines to extract up to 20 mtpa until 2033. This is an export mine. There have been 5 modifications of the approvals with Mod 6 currently with Dept Planning to extend the underground longwall panels within the existing mine lease area and the life of mine by 2 years to extract an additional 25 Mt coal.

The open cut mine is currently in care and maintenance. Glencore is also planning to extend the longwall operations to the west into EL 8687 over 1994 ha (Bungaba area). A drilling program has been carried out on private property since 2019. Another small exploration lease EL7542 is directly to the north of the Bungaba EL. An operational release (ELA 6253) was approved to the north of the current mining lease in May 2022 covering 4145 ha (now EL 9419) with a term of six years to 2028.

EXPANSION PLANS

Glencore is actively drilling in exploration areas (EL 8687, EL 9363 and EL 9419 - see map above) with the aim of expanding coal mining operations to assess the presence and quality of coal measures.

Ulan West Continuation Project

Exploration in areas EL 8687 and EL 9363 has been assessed for the Ulan West Continuation Project, This consists of an additional 7 underground longwall panels continuing to the west predicted to produce approximately 35 million tonnes of coal until 2042.

A scoping report is expected to be lodged with the Department of Planning and Environment soon. This will outline the likely impacts on water, biodiversity, Aboriginal cultural heritage and the community. This area has many small holdings and farming operations that rely on springs and a high water table that is already impacted by current groundwater drawdown through Ulan Mine operations.

Northern Exploration

A drilling program has commenced in EL 9419 to the north of existing underground  operations. This new exploration area was granted by the previous NSW Coalition Government in February 2022, one of three new areas opened up in NSW for access to additional coal. 6 exploration drill holes have been completed to date with more on the way.  This area crosses the Great Dividing Range, includes a number of permanent creeks and important water sources. Consultation with affected landholders in the Turill area is ongoing.

 

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