It was all hands on deck recently as Rix’s Creek fight for the future of their workforce and operations.
When the NSW Department of Planning and Environment held its public meeting, workers, the community and the activists all turned up to have their say or try and make a point.
What I took away from it all was the dignity with which those in support handled themselves. There was no fanfare or stunts from supporters, just a hell of a lot of people passionately telling how unique and important this operation and company is.
On the detractor’s side an early morning protest turned into a no show when it came time to talk. It was a case of ‘give us our way or we will boycott proceedings’ and that’s what largely occurred. It was a shame really. Both sides have their issues with the planning process, but it is the process we all have to work with. Sensible debate from both sides equals better outcomes whichever way it goes.
But all in our industry are praying that it goes our way.
The economic and employment benefits of the mine cannot be emphasised enough. These benefits include jobs for almost 300 direct employees and contractors. For this current year alone, the Bloomfield Group will spend $289 million on wages, suppliers and contractors with $114 million of this annual expenditure associated with Rix’s Creek South. Not to mention the group provides sponsorships and donations to charities and community efforts which provide huge benefits to the people of Singleton and surrounding areas.
The current Rix’s Creek Coal Mine has been operating since 1990 and its consent was set to expire on 24 June (2019), but was extended until March 2020, providing the IPCN with additional time to complete its assessment of the mine’s long-term continuation consent application.
This application seeks to continue operations as always intended when the mine commenced, and not significantly change operations, as stated by anti-mining lobbyists.
It would very much be business as usual at the site, with neighbours and the surrounding community not likely to notice significant change.
Bloomfield is providing some additional air quality assessment information as requested by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment earlier this month. The addendum information will be forwarded to the Department and IPCN early next month and will be publicly available.
Bloomfield has also responded to some minor environmental management and rehabilitation matters recently raised by the NSW Resources Regulator.
These matters are routine in nature, and the company’s responses in promptly addressing them demonstrate that it is continuing to cooperate with a stringent and thorough assessment process.
For the sake of the broader community, let’s hope sensible debate results in an outcome that works for all and provides a positive outcome for all. The fight isn’t over yet, keep up the good work.