The Anglo American owned Drayton open cut Mine site has been a landmark in the Upper Hunter Valley, south of Muswellbrook, NSW since 1984.
The Drayton South project involved the development of an open cut and highwall mining operation designed to extract up to 7 million tonnes per annum of run-of-mine coal. With the sites resources expected to be exhausted by 2015/2016, Anglo American proposed an extension for the Drayton South mine to replace the existing Drayton open-cut mining operation. The project, if approved would have extended the life of the coal mine for 20 years and produce a total of 97 million tonnes of coal.
The project would keep 500 employees in jobs for another 15 years and allow the mine to continue contributing to the local community benefiting local schools, sporting groups and the 140 local businesses who support them.
Anglo American first lodged an application for the open cut coal mine extension as far back as 2011.
The devastating outcome unexpected by the community was the Planning Assessment Commission’s (PAC) recommendation that the Drayton South project should not proceed.
The PAC rejected the Drayton South extension project in order to protect the nearby Thoroughbred Studs. They also commented the project was not in the public’s best interest.
Anglo American says PAC’s rejection of the Drayton South mine comes as a “shattering blow” to the local community of Muswellbrook and the Upper Hunter. The company has previously stated that the jobs of its workers rested on securing approval to extend the mine’s life.
It is devastating for the employees, the suppliers/service providers, the local community and the people of NSW who would have benefited from the annual $35 million in State Government Royalties from the project.
Workers are using the distinctive work clothes of their industry as part of a protest swamping social media in the Upper Hunter.
Support is flowing from Scone, Muswellbrook and further afield with an estimated 200+ hi-visibility shirts hung on the boundary fence of Drayton Mine. The project had widespread community support, with over ten thousand public submissions made in support of the project to the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) and the PAC.
Anglo American are now carefully considering the closure plan for Drayton.