The Independent Planning Commission (IPC) was in town on Thursday to hold a meeting into the proposed Glendell Modification 4.
In what is best described as a the 'baby' Glendell proposal, as the owners Glencore have big plans for the open cut mine 20kms from Singleton, the Mod 4 plans involve the disturbance of 4.3 hectares of land to allow the additional extraction of 1.95 million tonnes of coal from the mine's Barrett Pit.
Basically Glencore don't want to end up like their neighbours, Bloomfield Group's Rix's Creek mine, who were on the verge of closing their operation while they waited for the approval of their continuation plans.
With coal fast running out at Glendell and their Glendell Continuation Project only at the Environmental Assessment Impact review stage the company are keen to see this modification gain approval so mining can continue on site while the main Project goes through the assessment stages.
The plans will allow mining at Glendell until 2023 - by which time Glencore will be hoping the Continuation Project is approved - this would allow the further extraction of 135m tonnes of coal with mining approved until 2044.
The Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) has recommended approval as it will provide continued employment for 300 workers and importantly for State Government $8.5m in mining royalties.
The DPE in their assessment wants to see Glencore prepare a comprehensive airy quality and greenhouse management plan.
The IPC meeting was only attended by a handful of people with four speakers against the proposal and Glencore's Geoff Kelly outlining why the modification should be approved.
Camberwell resident Deidre Olofsson raised a number of concerns with the Modification including the fact if Glendell has run out of coal its not the fault of the residents.
"Why not use that fact to start a translation now like AGL are doing at Liddell Power Station, as an employee there we know when they are shutting and we can plan our future," she said.
Mrs Olosson also listed air quality as one of the big impacts of the continuation of the mining at the site.
"So far this year we have recorded 18 PM10 exceedences in Camberwell and in 2019 we had 113 days of PM10 levels above national standards, its unbearable for our community this level of air pollution," she said.
Due to the pollution Mrs Olofsson said water supplies in the village and surrounded areas were also impacted.
"We have 100 people in the community relying on tank water for their water supplies but it is so contaminated they are risking their health drinking the water. We buy in water for drinking purposes," she said.
"Even with first flush filtration system on the tanks the water remains highly toxic."
Answering questions from the IPC Commissioners she said Camberwell was highly impacted by the air pollution and it impacts on fresh water supplies.
"Water is everything," she told the IPC.
Taking a wider approach to objecting to the Modification was Bulga resident Judith Leslie who said Australia had been on fire since July 2019 when the first bushfires began in NSW.
"2019 was the hottest and driest year ever recorded and this meant for temperate forests were burning and tragically 33 lives lost, 2500 homes destroyed, 7.7m hectares burnt and native animals dying in a wasteland," she said.
"We are doomed if we dont act."
"The Hunter needs no more coal mine extensions. Risks are too great to our environment, economy and health. We are governed by blind ideologues."
Hunter Environment Lobby (HEL) also lodged a submission against the Modification saying the air quality assessment failed to apply new National Environment Protection Measure standards as well as failing to apply Environment Protection Authority 2017 guidelines of assessing air quality.
"We note that the air quality assessment failed to identify cumulative ambient air quality at Camberwell and surrounding districts," they said.
"For the last five years the area has had critical levels of air pollution impacting on human health."