Rio Tinto has proposed a new planning application to extend the lifecycle of the Mount Thorley Warkworth coal mine in Australia.
The application, which would extend the life of the super pit coal mine for up to 20 years, has officially been lodged with the New South Wales (NSW) government. Rio’s managing director of coal in Australia, Chris Salisbury, say the new application will not only extend the life of the mine, but jobs as well.
"We're seeking planning applications to allow Mount Thorley Warkworth to continue operating and protect the jobs of its 1300 workers," he said. "We're seeking approvals to continue operating until 2035 on land it owns within the footprint of its existing mining leases.
"We're proceeding to follow where the coal resource is proceeding with mining in a westerly direction."
Uncertainty over planning approvals has affected the mine’s profitability and Rio Tinto is asking the NSW government to approve the application and stop any further delays.
"We've been working for close to five years now to secure a long term future and we're really running out of time,” says Salisbury. "Our current planning approvals will only allow the mine to maintain its existing production and employment levels until the end of next year
"The fact that we've had a delay to getting our long term approvals has already cost us one million tons of production this year."
Previous attempts by Rio Tinto to expand the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine have been rejected by the Land and Environment Court and Supreme Court. The courts believe the coal mine will cause more harm than good to the community.