Mining giant Rio Tinto has hit back at accusations that the company abused due process to gain approval for Mount Thorley Warkworth’s new expansion near Bulga.
A spokesperson said Rio Tinto refuted the claims of the Lock The Gate Alliance and the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association, which are calling on the NSW Government to suspend the proposal.
“Rio Tinto followed due process at all times during the Warkworth modification application,” he said.
“The minor modification, which will enable the mine to continue operating as close as possible to existing production levels and protect the jobs of 1300 workers for the next two years, has been prepared as a matter of urgency.
“After four years of consultation and assessment for the Warkworth Extension Project it is disingenuous to claim that this minor modification, affecting only a very small part of the previous proposal, needs to be further delayed.
“The future viability of the mine and its workforce depends on securing this approval as quickly as possible and it is the only real option we have to avoid further significant impacts on production and jobs.”
The spokesperson said calls to delay this assessment disregarded more than 900 submissions, which support the project and want it to proceed.
“Rio Tinto has a dedicated and highly-experienced team who worked around the
clock to assess and respond appropriately to all objections once the public exhibition period closed,” he said.
“The implications of the minor modification now being sought are extremely well understood, thereby allowing the company to respond to submissions in a timely manner.
“In addition to the familiarity the team has with the implications of the minor modification derived from the previous four years of work, many of the submissions were issues that have been raised in the past or referred to aspects of the larger 2012 Warkworth Extension Project, which are irrelevant to this modification.
“This 350-metre modification is significantly smaller than the Warkworth Extension Project.
“As soon as a business decision was made to apply for the Warkworth modification we contacted near neighbours and community stakeholders and distributed thousands of letters and fact sheets across Singleton as well as arranging drop-in information sessions during the public exhibition period at our Singleton shopfront.”