SOUTH32, MOUNT KEMBLA
Waterways affected: Cordeaux reservoir and catchment, Avon reservoir and catchment, Pheasants Nest weir catchment.
UPDATE August 2022 — South32 have announced that they have abandoned their attempt to expand the Dendrobium Mine, saying it would be unprofitable.
The Dendrobium Mine is an underground coal mine located in the Illawarra Escarpment, near Mt Kembla. Dendrobium is owned by South32, who also owns the Appin/West Cliff Colliery and explorations nearby.
Longwall mining at Dendrobium began in April 2005, and has continued 24/7 since. This mining occurs beneath the Upper Nepean sub-catchment of the Special Areas of the Greater Sydney Water Catchment.
South32 is currently untaking longwall mining in Area 3B, with extraction largely complete in Areas 1, 2 and 3A (1). Dendrobium has development approval to mine Area 3B and 3C until 2030, however it expects to have depleted these areas by 2024.
Have a look at our explainer post on longwall mining.
Following enormous opposition from local community and organisations, South32’s Dendrobium Mine Extension Project was rejected by the NSW Independent Planning Commission in February 2021. You can read more about the original expansion proposal below.
The NSW Government announced in late 2021 that the Dendrobium Extension is now “State Significant Infrastructure” – unprecedented for a coal mine.
A revised expansion proposal was submitted in early 2022, seeking an expansion into “Area 5” and a continuation of mining until 2041.
On the 23rd August 2022, South32 announced that they were abandoning this expansion. The mine’s workers were informed of this announcement via text message.
Read more about the 2022 revised expansion proposal here
Read more about the original 2019 expansion proposal here