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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.