Warkworth Mining Ltd. v. Bulga Milbrodale Progress Ass’n Inc.

Land Use
Mining Coal mining

Warkworth Mining Ltd. v. Bulga Milbrodale Progress Ass’n Inc. [2014] NSWCA 105
New South Wales Court of Appeal

A mining company applied to expand an existing open-cut coal mine, the Warkworth Mine, located in the Hunter Valley of the state of New South Wales.  The company sought to mine areas that had previously been deemed uneconomical due to lower coal prices.  These areas had been designated previously as “non-disturbance” areas under prior authorizations. 

The proposed mine expansion would cause significant disturbance in the surrounding area, including closure of a major road, clearing 766 hectares of endangered habitat, removal of a major land feature sheltering a local community from the mine site, and above-ground disposal of significant amounts of mine overburden.  Mining would occur within 2.8km of the village of Bulga.  Planning officials approved the mine proposal; however, the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales overturned the decision on the ground that the project posed unacceptable risks of impact to the local community and to the environment, which outweighed any positive economic and social benefits from the mine expansion. 

The Court of Appeal found no fault with the Land and Environment Court’s decision and dismissed the mining company’s appeal with costs.