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The New South Wales Government has recommended that the Independent Planning Commission approves the expansion of Wollongong Coal’s Russell Vale mine.

The state’s Department of Planning, Industry and Environment believes that the economic benefits of Wollongong Coal’s revised underground expansion project outweigh its residual costs, deeming the project “approvable, subject to strict conditions of consent”.

Under the revised project plan, the Russell Vale operations will only involve non-caving board and pillar mining techniques, to ensure long term stable operations with minimal subsidence impacts.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment believes that this revised plan has addressed key issues raised by the IPC when the first plan was submitted.

“Based on a detailed assessment, the department and relevant government agencies consider the revised underground expansion plan board and pillar mining method has addressed key issues raised by the IPC, particularly in relation to the uncertainty associated with subsidence and groundwater impacts,” the department said in its statement to the IPC.

The department has recommended conditions to address the residual impacts and risks of the revised underground expansion plan, in consultation with government agencies and Wollongong City Council.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes has also requested that the IPC holds a public hearing with regard to the project, determining the development application.

Once complete, the expansion will allow Wollongong Coal to extract up to 3.7 million tonnes of run-of-mine coal over five years from the Russell Vale mine.