Stratford Coal extension underway, MidCoast Council formality vote deferred

It's been over four years since Stratford Coal got the tick to expand its mining footprint in the Gloucester basin, and despite already undertaking works, there is still the matter of a public road closure.

The matter was brought before MidCoast Council to approve the closure of part of Wenham Cox Road, Stratford and the transfer of land to the mining company, however, due to lack of clarity of the information in the council report, the vote was deferred.

It's a remaining formality which would mark off another stage completed of what has been a fairly lengthy process in the expansion of the Stratford Coal mine.

Yancoal, who owns the Stratford mine, lodged an application NSW Planning and Assessment Commission (PAC) in 2012 for the extension and continuation of its mining operations at its Stratford site.

The project centred around the extension of mining into three new open cut mining areas (Roseville West Pit Extension, Avon North Open Cut and Stratford East Open Cut).

Although the PAC approved Stratford's extension application on May 29, 2015, the company was on standby for about four years before getting to work.

According to a spokesperson for Stratford Coal, things started moving in April 2018 and part of the project involved moving a section of Wenham Cox Road for allow for the mining operations.

The company built a new section of road in September 2018 and applied to council for approval in February 2019 for the permanent use of the new road in exchange for the closure of the existing road.

Even though council is yet to approve the closure, mine operations have already moved into the area of the public road, and hence, the decision to defer the vote hasn't delayed the expansion, nor the prospect of new jobs in the region.

The expansion application had pitched it would be able "provide approximately 250 direct jobs in the local area", but it turns out that wasn't the case.

A spokesperson said that the opening of the extension coincided with the winding down of mining operations at the Duralie Mine further south on the Bucketts Way. As both site are owned by Yancoal, it was organised to shifted employees across to avoid unnecessary layoffs.

"Around 50 employees transitioned from the Duralie mine to the Stratford mine as part of the expansion as well as an additional 30 contractors and an intake of 17 new employees, including trainees," a spokesperson said.

This occurred in a staged transition from mid-2018 until Duralie eased operations later that year.

Rules of engagement

The extension approval allows for Stratford Coal to carry out mining operations on site until December 31, 2025, extracting no more than 2.6 million tonnes of ROM coal in any calendar year.

Open cut mining operations in the Bowens Road North and Roseville West extension pits, recovery and transport of CHPP rejects for re-processing and construction of the noise mitigation bunds on the western side of the Avon North, Roseville West Extension and Stratford East pits are to run from 7am to 6pm daily. While open cut mining operations in the Avon North and Stratford East pits, coal processing, loading and dispatch of product coal trains are permitted to run 24 hours a day daily.

Did you know?

Stratford Coal did seek to amend its development application for the extension alongside Gloucester Resources Limited's proposed Rocky Hill Coal Mine, which was rejected by the NSW Planning and Assessment Commission in December 2017.