THE state government's new coalmining policy says there is no point in reducing coal exports for environmental reasons, and it opens up eight substantial areas for exploration in the Hunter and adjacent areas, including 178 square kilometres of state forest between historic Wollombi and Broke.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro formally unveiled the state's Strategic Statement on Coal Exploration and Mining at Yancoal's Mount Thorley/Warkworth open-cut near Singleton yesterday morning.
Flanked by Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen and the NSW Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee, Mr Barilaro said he had promised at last year's state election to make NSW the "number one destination for mining investment", and this policy continued that "vision and bold approach".
A map of coal-bearing regions released with the policy earmarked five exploration areas that prohibited coal mining by legislation.
Mr Barilaro acknowledged that the exploration licences for these areas had already been relinquished, and that the government had not extended any mining bans, including in the area southwest of Sydney, where underground mines were operating controversially under the Warragamba Dam catchment area.
The map includes eight exploration areas Mr Barilaro said were part of its "fast track" approach for mining approvals, including the major Giants Creek area, north of Muswellbrook, Gorman North, at Narrabri, and five areas in the Ulan, Bylong and Mudgee regions, as well as Wollombi.