Drayton South slows mining as approval process drags

THE Drayton coalmine, near Muswellbrook, is reducing its roster and says it will have to cut staff as a result of delays in the approval of the proposed Drayton South extension.

The company announced yesterday it would be moving from a seven-day to a five-day roster from July 1.

Mine general manager Clarence Robertson said the roster change was an unavoidable step to slow production and extend the life of the mine for as long as possible.

‘‘We are persevering to secure state government approval for Drayton South, but as a result of the delays with the approvals process we have run out of time to achieve the overlap we needed to keep the entire workforce employed while we developed the project,’’ Mr Robertson said.

‘‘Regrettably, with the change in roster we will be reducing the number of crews at site by one and taking out some equipment, which will mean some job losses and redundancies are likely.’’

The Drayton South project would extend the life of the 30-year-old Drayton mine, which is due to run out of mineable reserves next year.

The mine employs about 500 people, many of whom would move to the Drayton South project.

The Planning Assessment Commission panel recommended late last year Drayton South be rejected.

It found the proposed extension would have significant adverse effects on two nearby horse studs, Darley and Coolmore, as a result of dust, noise and the loss of the rural landscape.

A new panel of members will now re-evaluate the project.

Mr Robertson said the commission’s report was disappointing.

‘‘We have lodged our detailed response to the commission’s conclusions with the Department of Planning, and we continue our efforts to secure the necessary project approval without further delay.

‘‘For now, the next steps for us will be determining the detail for the roster changes we need to implement and starting formal consultation with the relevant people.

‘‘We understand this is a difficult time and we are providing our employees with assistance and support.’’

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