Peabody Temporary Workers Camp Approved!

In a blow to the Mudgee Region community, the NSW Government has failed to take an opportunity to provide new, permanent housing in Wollar. Peabody, who is the main landholder in Wollar, is approved to allow those homes to decay while building temporary camps.

The application to build a temporary workers camp on the mine site received significant comment (Mod 2) on the Department of Planning and Environment website. Of the 40 submissions received, 38 were in objection. Regardless, the Government has seen fit to approve the application (Assessment Report here). They say that given the timing constraints associated with securing land and the development approval process for permanent dwellings, the Department does not consider that it is justified to require Peabody to construct permanent housing. This argument does not stack up. In regards to securing land, Peabody already owns most of the land in the Wollar district. In regards to development approval, The NSW Government has set itself a target of 127,000 new homes in regional NSW and has undertaken to fast-track new home approvals to achieve this.

In a country in with a national housing crisis, all industry in the Mudgee Region is struggling to house workers and consultants. This includes the Wollar Solar Farm, now under construction, and the proposed Central West Orana Renewable Energy Zone. Approving temporary housing for a coal mine while allowing the homes that they own within the community to decay is unacceptable.

Peabody Energy is currently the largest landowner and housing property manager in the Wollar district. Instead of investing in a permanent legacy for the the Mudgee region community in the form of new houses in Wollar Village and renovation of properties for rental, Peabody Energy and the NSW Government is going for an easy short-term fix, a temporary workers camp at the mine.

The social impact of the Wilpinjong Mine on the Wollar community has been severe. The ongoing loss of population has caused the Public School and the General Store to close. A responsible corporate citizen would start rebuilding the community, rather than demolishing houses and destroying the amenity and character of Wollar Village.

The NSW Government should be encouraging the construction of new, permanent housing to solve the regional and state-wide housing crisis, not approving temporary accommodation fixes that only benefit multinational companies.

ABC interview on this topic here.

Rebuild Wollar for a renewable energy future.

The proposed temporary workers camp is on a Crown Road corridor and requires a licence or lease to authorise the use of the land.

Crown Lands

Insufficient information has been provided to undertake a bushfire assessment. Architectural design, assessment of hazard of radiant heat and assessment of surrounding forest vegetation is required. An onsite manager is advised to implement emergency and evacuation plans.

Rural Fire Service

More information is required relating to plans of the proposed buildings and infrastructure, water supply and waste water treatment, management of waste disposal and if the camp is for the sole use of Wilpinjong workforce.

Mid-Western Regional Council

Peabody Energy - The Largest Land & House Owner in Wollar District

As a result of previous mine approvals Peabody Energy is now the largest landowner and housing property manager in the Wollar district. Most of the people from Wollar have been forced to leave the community and sell their homes and properties to the multinational mining company because of the impacts from the large opencut coal-mining operations: noise, dust and odour.

The NSW Government has supported this land acquisition policy as a way of managing the mining impacts. This has hollowed out the local population and left Peabody owning the housing stock in the Wollar Village and on surrounding properties at a time of regional and national housing crisis.

With little investment in basic housing maintenance, Peabody is pulling down houses in Wollar Village at a time when there is a critical shortage of housing in the Mudgee region. A responsible property owner would maintain housing for the local rental market. The vacant blocks in Wollar Village need new houses to ensure the long-term future of the community and to ease the current accommodation crisis.

Houses should be saved from demolition and renovated to help the desperate shortage of housing in the Wollar and Mudgee Region.

Peabody's Wilpinjong Coal Mine

This operation covering 36 km2 was approved in 2006 to produce 9.5 mtpa and supply 7 mtpa under contract to Bayswater Power Station. With a number of modifications and an extension approved in 2017 this mine is now approved to extract 16 mtpa until 2033. The contract to Bayswater expires in 2026 and the bulk of the product is exported. An operational release to the north, east and south-east of Wollar village, EL 9399 over 1668 ha, was granted in May 2022. The lease is over mine-owned land excepting an area of Crown Land with a Native Title Claim directly opposite the village.

A drilling program commenced in August 2022 over an 18 mth period. An environmental assessment process is being conducted concurrently with the aim of lodging a mining application for the northern section of the lease as soon as possible after drilling has provided the necessary information.

Wilpinjong is Expanding: Project Modification 3

Peabody has lodged a scoping letter with the Department of Planning outlining plans to expand open cut coal mining to the north and east of current operations. The proposal moves outside the current approved area into EL 9399 but has been lodged as a Modification to the current approval.

The scoping letter is posted here.

The proposal is to disturb an additional 350 ha of land, closer to Goulburn River National Park and Wilpinjong Creek to obtain a further 34 million tonnes of coal. The plan is to shift the Sandy Hollow railway line and Wollar-Ulan Road and bring the open cut mine to within 500 m of Wollar Village.

Peabody has commenced assessment projects and is planning to lodge the development application in early 2025.

The blue line shows the current approved area. The proposed Mod 3 expansion is shown in white hatch.

Local Mines

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