Gloucester Resources Limited (GRL) has announced that it will not be seeking renewal for part of the exploration licence (EL) held for the Gloucester Basin.
The action, GRL has said, is to set in stone the company’s “long-stated commitment of not mining any closer to town than what is outlined in the current Rocky Hill Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).”
GRL stated it will relinquish approximately six square kilometres of its EL, that lies north of the proposed mine site.
GRL chief operating officer (COO) Brian Clifford said the company had explored but never intended to mine to the extent of the exploration licence.
He said the fact that the licence existed led some people to believe GRL intended to expand its mining footprint towards Gloucester at a later date.
This feeling that was mirrored in the community consultations last year and the responses to submissions, he explained.
“This had never been the intention and to prove that, we will relinquish the area of EL 6523 to the north of Jacks Road/Waukivory Road in the next renewal application for EL 6523, in early 2018,” Mr Clifford said.
Member for the Upper Hunter, Michael Johnsen has welcomed the announcement stating that people in the community had approached him with concerns about the proposed mine and their belief that it would expand closer to town.
“Brian Clifford had assured me there was no intention to expand mining operations closer to Gloucester beyond what has been outlined in the Environmental Impact Statement, so I requested that his company demonstrate their commitment to no future expansion,” Mr Johnsen said.
“This confirms GRL’s stated position that there will be no stage two of the Rocky Hill Project or mining closer to town,” he continued.
Groundswell Gloucester chair, Julie Lyford said this action by GRL is “complete window dressing.”
“At the end of the day, the whole project is unacceptable because of the known human harm and risks to people’s health related to coal dust,” Ms Lyford stated.
Mr Clifford said Mr Johnsen has worked closely with GRL to ensure the future needs of Gloucester and the project are able work together in a long term and secure way.
“This will be a relief to some people in the Gloucester community who now have assurance that GRL will not be exploring mining opportunities beyond what has already been outlined,” Mr Johnsen said.
GRL’s revised EIS is currently with the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) awaiting GRL’s response to submissions.