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Hunter mining projects to drive NSW economic recovery


The Hunter is set to benefit from the mining industry, yet again, with 10 “local” projects in the pipeline to drive economic recovery in the state.

All up, there are 32 developments at various stages in the NSW planning system, which have the potential to lift the government’s coffers substantially, post COVID-19.

New research, completed by the NSW Minerals Council, has analysed the potential financial advantages of the proposals, from the initial EIS submission stage to those still seeking related conditional approvals before mining can start.

The 2021 Lower Hunter list includes the United Wambo Open Cut Coal Mine ($207m capital investment; $369m royalties; 570 jobs); Mangoola Coal Continued Operations Project ($40m, $121m, 540); Maxwell Project ($509m, $342m, 350); Glendell Continued Operations Project ($515m, $296m, 687); HVO Nth OC Continuation Project (2,100 jobs); HVO Sth OC Continuation Project; Mt Pleasant Optimisation Project ($950m, $684m, 600); Ashton South East Open Cut ($168m, $107m, 212); and Bulga – Mod 3 & Mod 7 ($95m, $104m, 1,000); while the Narrabri Underground Stage 3 Extension Project ($404m, $259m, 520) and Vickery Extension Project ($674m, $261m, 950) are featured in the Upper Hunter region.

“Collectively, these projects have the potential to deliver almost $13 billion in investment and more than 17,500 jobs for NSW to help support and rebuild the economy, while boosting regional development across the state,” NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said.

“In particular, there is growing demand for our high-quality metals and rare earths.

“Technological advances in industries such as telecommunications, medicine, defence, renewables, and energy storage are driving demand for critical metals and minerals.

“This is providing further opportunities for regional communities across the state.”

Coal continues to be NSW’s most valuable export commodity, worth about $16 billion in exports in 2021 as well as $1.6 billion in royalties to the NSW Government.

And, its demand has remained strong despite the global pandemic, including with our top three traditional markets Japan, Korea and Taiwan, as well as important emerging markets like India, Vietnam and the Philippines.

This is expected to stay the same for at least the next two decades.

“We’ve also seen a significant surge in the coal price over recent months,” Mr Galilee said.

“This is driving opportunities, too, with a range of NSW coal projects under assessment.

“Most are for extensions of existing operations, with a few new ones and a further $5.5 billion of investment opportunity for our regions, and thousands more jobs created or protected across the state.”

However, the number of coal projects has decreased from 21 in 2020 to 19 in 2021 due to the start of a project, withdrawal or discontinuance of some, and the refusal of the Dendrobium project by the NSW Independent Planning Commission.

“As NSW continues to be gripped by the effects of COVID-19, and we look to rebuild the economy, there has never been a more critical time to maximise the opportunities this pipeline of job-generating projects represents,” Mr Galilee said.

“In the Hunter alone, the potential regional economic benefits include more than $3.6 billion in capital investment and about 7,500 jobs while, in the Lithgow/Mudgee region, in excess of $150 million capital investment and 600 jobs.

“The NSW mining industry stands ready to strengthen the state economy in the short term and for decades to come.

“Overall, these 32 project proposals demonstrate how the NSW sector can deliver billions in investment, thousands of jobs, and economic growth needed to help rebuild our state economy in the years ahead.

“And, with the right policies in place to support mining, we will do so.”

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