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Approval Process
The approval process for the proposed mine has a number of steps, including the environmental assessment, which can take a number of years. The process outlined here is a guide only. Projected dates may also change depending on further studies required and/or other constraints. The final decision concerning any approval of the proposed mine will be made by the Minister for Planning.

The environmental approval process for an open cut mine at South Bickham started in 2002 and is estimated to conclude in the last quarter of 2007. The following outlines the steps Bickham Coal Company (BCC) has taken in its endeavour to establish a sustainable open cut coal mine at the site.

Bickham land acquired
1,154 hectares of grazing land bought from E.R.Bromley in 2002, 25km North of Scone and 12km South East of Murrurundi.

Review of Environmental Factors (REF) for Bulk Sample
A comprehensive Review of Environmental Factors for activities relating to the extraction of a bulk sample of coal was publicly exhibited in 2004. Approval was granted by the Minister for Mineral Resources on 28th January 2004.

25,000 tonnes of coal was extracted from a small section of the potential mining area and shipped to Japan for assessment. This was conducted in 2004 and early 2005. For a detailed account of the bulk sample click here. The results of the coal testing indicated that the coal is suitable for export. The bulk sample excavation also provided important data on the feasibility of developing a full open cut mine at the site.

Conceptual Project Development Plan (CPDP) for Department of Primary Industries (DPI) - Minerals
As part of the mine planning process to prove that a potential mine in NSW adheres to current safety and environmental standards, a Conceptual Project Development Plan has to be submitted to the Department of Primary Industries for assessment. BCC submitted a CPDP to the Department of Primary Industries in September 2005. The approval of such a plan means that BCC has demonstrated their proposed operation is a responsible mining development. For more details on a Conceptual Project Development Plan go to the NSW Department of Primary Industries website.

Water Resource Assessment
A recommendation of the Department of Planning’s report “Coal Mining Potential in the Upper Hunter - Strategic Assessment” was that BCC prepare a Water Resource Assessment and draft life-of-mine Water Management Plan. These will determine any effects an open cut mine will have on groundwater and the Pages River. The Water Resource Assessment will determine the relationship between groundwater and the Pages River, what runoff will reach the river, if any and its long term effects. A Water Management Plan will provide details of proposed sources and uses of water during the life of the proposed mine.

During the preparation of these water studies, Bickham will consult with the community to identify water resource concerns so that they may be reported and discussed in the water study. Consultation will include face to face contact with nearby landholders, letter drops to properties, meetings with local government and meetings with relevant water user groups. For more information click here.

Once completed, the two studies will be assessed by an independent review panel established by the Department of Planning (DoP), who will oversee the scope and analyse technical aspects of the studies. The panel will report their findings to the key government agencies comprising the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), Department of Primary Industries - Minerals (DPI-Minerals) and the Department of Planning. The DoP will then advise BCC of the outcome of the review process and whether the proposal can proceed.

Planning Focus Meeting
Assuming that the outcome of the inpdendent review process is favourable for development of the mine, a planning focus meeting will be held to identify and clarify the scope of any further environmental issues that need addressing in an environmental assessment.

Project Application
BCC will submit a project application to the DoP outlining details of project permissibility, relavant legislation, conceptual mine planning information and a preliminary environmental assessment. The project application will also outline a proposed scope of the environmental assessment focussing on key environmental issues. At the time of submission, BCC will formally request the requirements of the Department of Planning concerning any additional environmental assessment that is required.

Environmental assessment and Community Consultation
An environmental assessment will be completed in accordance with the requirements provided by the DoP. As part of the environmental assessment, BCC will conduct further community and stakeholder consultation including face to face meetings, displays, newsletters and presentations to community groups.

Determination
Any approval for the proposal to develop an open cut coal mine at Bickham will be determined by the Minister for Planning following assessment by the Department of Planning and other government agencies.

PROPOSAL
Outline of Approval Process
Water Resource Assessment
Overview of Bulk Sample

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Bickham Coal Company PTY LTD
PO Box 470 Rutherford
NSW 2320
Phone: 02 4932 3200
fax: 02 4932 3266
info@bickhamcoal.com.au