EnergyAustralia today said it plans to submit an updated application with the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment for a rail coal unloader that’s integral to Mt Piper power station’s continued operation.
EnergyAustralia Head of New South Wales, Malcolm Murphy, said the proposed development will provide certainty for the coal-fired plant that powers around 1.2 million households every year and supplies up to 15 per cent of New South Wales’ energy demand. Mr Murphy said with the future of local coal supply uncertain, a rail unloader keeps the options open.
“Sourcing coal from the Lithgow region will always be our preferred option in protecting local jobs. The reality is, previously there were six local mines capable of supplying Mt Piper and that’s down to one – Springvale. Its scheduled to close in 2024 while Mt Piper has an operating life to 2042,” Mr Murphy said.
“The work we’re doing ensures we have adequate supplies for the life of the station. A rail coal unloader facility at Pipers Flat, located between Wallerawang and Portland, would enable us to source coal from other mines in NSW via rail. This will safeguard the plant and the state if there’s an interruption to locally supplied coal, and there’s the added benefit of blending our coal source.”
Mr Murphy said in the short term, the proposed volume would be equal to around two-to-three trains each week.
EnergyAustralia intends to improve on the original project plans, which were approved by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment in 2009. Reducing the rail embankment height by four metres and removing certain structures means there’s less impact to visual amenity, the area is better protected from noise, and the operation becomes more efficient in the process of unloading coal.
Mr Murphy said projects of this kind are better when the community is informed and has a say. “We’re keeping Lithgow City Council and members of our Community Consultative Committee up-to-date. We’ll also be asking locals and other stakeholders for their views and feedback.”
EnergyAustralia hopes to be able to receive coal from other mines in New South Wales by 2022. Around 130 jobs would be created during the rail unloader’s two-year construction.
Mt Piper provides around 175 permanent local jobs. It’s one of New South Wales’ newest and most efficient coal-fired plants, having earned a reputation for supplying customers across the state with reliable, affordable electricity.
Locals and businesses with questions about the project are encouraged to reach out to the Mt Piper team at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (02) 6354 8111.