The NSW EPA is assessing the “largest coal-mining proposal ever put forward” in the state.

The EPA has written a letter to NSW’s planning department about plans by Yancoal and Glencore.

The companies want to keep their joint-venture Hunter Valley Operations (HVO) mines in the Upper Hunter region going, which the EPA says would release almost 30 million tonnes of CO2. 

The letter says the plan would require faster emissions reductions in other sectors “for NSW to remain on track to meet the legislated net zero emissions target in 2050”, noting that the project “relies on offsets” but includes “no detail on where the offsets will be generated”.

HVO needs the EPA’s approval to avoid having to stop mining at the north pit in June 2025 and the south pit in 2030. The company claims that an extension could deliver $7.8 billion of economic benefits to the state, including 1,500 ongoing jobs and 600 temporary construction jobs.

It is one of 18 new coal projects being assessed in NSW. 

HVO general manager, Dave Foster, has told reporters that “the EPA letter does not oppose the proposal. We have already committed to two of the consent conditions the EPA suggests if approval is granted – a three-yearly review of technologies to further reduce emissions and a gas pre-drainage trial within two years of continuing mining”.

“The mine has been operating for more than 70 years. Because we are largely re-mining previously disturbed areas, there are relatively few additional impacts compared to a new mine or expansion of an existing mine to a similar scale.”