XSTRATA will lodge a development application with the Central Highlands Regional Council to double its workers accommodation village to 700 units to service its Rolleston coal mine as the Swiss mining giant eyes off expanding export tonnages.
In documents lodged under the Federal Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conversation Act, Xstrata said the current camp located near Albinia Downs, 10km northwest of Rolleston, would be insufficient to meet the future plans of the coal mine.
After two major flooding events in three years in its open-cut pits, Xstrata is seeking approval from the Department of Environment and Resource Management to increase output within its existing mining lease.
“The expansion is needed due to increased production and changes to production methods at the existing mine,” the submission stated.
“The purpose of the development is to provide additional bed spaces for permanent mine operation staff and contractors.
“The proposed expansion also includes expansion of the car parks, provision of a new mess hall, upgrades to the existing sewerage and water treatment facilities and the relocation of an existing silt retention dam.
“Although the expansion will require upgrades to the existing sewerage and wastewater treatment facilities, the footprint of this infrastructure, energy supply infrastructure and access infrastructure will not increase.”
The proposed expansion will increase the development area from 9.96ha to 17.90ha.
The development would be phased in with stage one anticipated to start in June and continue for six months.
This will involve constructing an additional 164 single person quarters, with another 50 SPQs and 100 single person contractors’ quarters to be built in stage two, beginning in 2012.
The undeveloped part of the camp lease, which is within the Comet River sub-basin catchment, contains a turkey nest dam, windmill and water troughs which, prior to the establishment of the village in 2005, were used by grazing cattle.
Xstrata’s submission said expanding the camp was vital as leaving it as is was “not a viable alternative if the proposed mine expansion takes place”.
“Creating a new facility in another location is impractical and would likely result in other environmental issues as well as increased costs, both for development and operation, as it would represent a duplication of services,” the submission argued.
An environmental management plan will be lodged prior to construction.
EPBC invitations for public comment on the expansion close tomorrow.
Despite the adverse weather conditions faced by Xstrata’s coal mining operations this year, the company negotiated $330 a tonne for its second quarter prime hard coking coal contracts, and $130 a tonne for its thermal coal orders.
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