With the deadline looming for the end of it's operations Rix's Creek South Coal Mine received a lifeline today, with the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC), approving a nine-month mining extension.
The decision allows the mine to continue operating until March 2020 and means they have that time to await the IPC's assessment of the mine's long-term continuation consent application.
The current operational consent - which has been in place since 1990 - was set to expire on 24 June (2019).
The mine's operator, The Bloomfield Group (Bloomfield), said although the short-term outcome was of some relief for hundreds of employees, their families and many others in the community that rely on the mine, it was critical for the long-term future of the mine to be clarified.
"We have worked tirelessly and in good faith to follow an evolving planning process over six years," Bloomfield CEO Brett Lewis said.
"We support a rigorous and exhaustive process, but the uncertainty and stress that the consent renewal process has caused our employees and their families is extremely disappointing."
The process of securing the long-term consent commenced with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment in 2013.
Bloomfield is seeking the long-term approval so it can continue Rix's Creek South Coal Mine operations for another 21 years.
The mine would progress for about 1.5km in a westward direction away from Singleton, with land being backfilled and remediated, as has always happened since the mine commenced in 1990.
Three and a half years have passed since the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) exhibition period ended and more than a year has passed since the Independent Planning Commission's (IPC) public hearing into the matter.
Bloomfield stated he highly unusual burden of applying for a short-term consent extension as a contingency - in between seeking the main continuation consent - has been costly and time-consuming.
Bloomfield said that uncertainty and unease will remain amongst the mine's 300 full-time workers (260 full time employees and 40 full time equivalent contractors) until the longer-term consent determination process is finalised.
"Like all businesses, we need to plan ahead for our people, our customers and our suppliers and to do this we need certainty," Mr Lewis said.
"We hope our long-term consent application will be finalised as quickly as possible."