Australian Pacific Coal’s attempt to have its Dartbrook mine extension reconsidered by the Independent Planning Commission uses outdated data to downplay how much the project would contribute to the Hunter’s already unacceptable coal dust levels.
Among the most worrying aspects of the company’s renewed application is that it uses an air quality assessment taken in 2014 as the base year for background air pollution in the district.
That means the company is using data from before the nearby Mount Pleasant coal mine - itself a major contributor to coal dust - began operating in 2016.
“Average annual PM10 dust levels in Aberdeen in the last two years were several points higher than they were in 2014, and last year they exceeded the national standard,” said Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods.
“The Hunter is already suffering from coal dust levels that exceed the national standard and the health of the population is being negatively impacted as a result.”
Ms Woods said the company had also failed to address how the carbon emissions produced from the extension - 113.8 million tonnes, including downstream emissions over the life of the project - would impact the climate, both locally and globally.
“The terrifying and destructive fires of earlier this year are still fresh in people’s minds,” she said.
“Australia Pacific Coal not only wants to add fuel to future fires through this extension, but it barely even acknowledges that it is doing so.
“This coal mine extension will also contribute to local, direct environmental degradation, such as further drawing down the Hunter River alluvium.
“The IPC must reject the Dartbrook extension due to the unacceptable impact it will have on people’s health and the environment.”