In an unexpected move, Bengalla Mining Company, is taking their neighbour, MACH Energy, to the Land and Environment Court.
The news comes as a shock to MACH, who purchased the Mount Pleasant greenfield site north of the existing Begalla open-cut operation from Coal&Allied in January 2016 - and the sale was completed in August.
Predominately owned by Wesfarmers and the New Hope Group, Bengalla is claiming MACH have not satisfied a condition of their development consent and need to rectify this before any further development takes place.
Both sites, located outside of Muswellbrook, were once owned by Rio Tinto and Bengalla is currently managed by former Mount Thorley Warkworth (MTW) general manager, Cam Halfpenny.
MACH Energy categorically rejects the claim that the relevant condition of the Development Consent has not been satisfied.
A spokesperson from the Department of Planning and Environment said they have not been formally informed of the commencement of or the basis for these legal proceedings.
MACH Energy’s managing director Scott Winter said these legal proceedings, by the operator of the adjacent coal mine, are without merit and will be strenuously defended.
“All conditions of the Development Consent have been satisfied, and all approvals are in place for the development of the Mount Pleasant Operation to proceed,” he said.
“In July 2016 the Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy acknowledged in writing that the relevant condition had been satisfied.”
“Construction efforts at Mount Pleasant are well underway with about 200 workers currently based at site. MACH Energy is continuing the development of the Mount Pleasant Operation as planned, as we are entitled to do.”
Bengalla has not responded to Fairfax media’s request for a comment.
Although it appears a recently approved modification to MACH’s development consent involving the relocation of a haul road may be the motivating factor.
The department approved the modification on March 29 after MACH identified that relocation of the haul road would provide more efficient access from the South Pit to the CHPP and provide greater separation between haulage activities and the water management infrastructure associated with the Bengalla Mine, located to the South.
All other aspects of the development remain unchanged.
Bengalla did not lodge a submission with the department regarding the modification.
The first coal from the Mount Pleasant Operation is expected in mid-2018.