The United Mine (United) and Wambo Mine (Wambo) are situated approximately 16 kilometres (km) west of Singleton in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales (NSW) (refer to Figure 1.1). United is owned 95 per cent by Glencore Coal Pty Limited (Glencore) and 5 per cent by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and is managed by Glencore.   Wambo is an existing coal mining operation and is a neighbour operation to United. Wambo Coal Pty Limited (Wambo Coal) is a subsidiary of Peabody Energy Australia Pty Limited (Peabody).

The United and Wambo coal mining operations were established in 1989 and the late 1960's, respectively. There have been a range of underground and open cut coal mining operations at both of these adjoining coal mines since that time, with a number of agreements entered into by United Collieries Pty Ltd (United Collieries) and Wambo Coal over time in relation to access to underground and open cut coal reserves within mining titles held by each company.

Whilst open cut coal mining has previously been undertaken at United, over the last two decades the focus has been on underground mining. Underground longwall mining operations were approved to provide up to 2.95 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of saleable coal.  Operations were suspended at United in March 2010 with the mine entering a period of care and maintenance.  At that time, exploration and pre-feasibility works were commenced to determine the potential for future mining activities within United's mining lease. Ongoing exploration has identified substantial reserves of coal suitable for open cut mining. 

The current existing and approved Wambo open cut coal mine adjoins the United operations, and was planned to produce up to 8 Mtpa of run of mine (ROM) coal up to 2017.  The combined Wambo underground and open cut operations, have approval to extract up to 14.7 Mtpa run of mine (ROM) coal, and to transport up to 15 Mtpa product coal via the approved train loading facility until 2025. Wambo has lodged a modification to development consent DA 305-7-2003, which includes an extension to the life of the open cut up to and including 2020, and an extension to the life of the underground operations to 2032. 

In November 2014, a 50:50 Joint Venture between United Collieries Pty Limited (United Collieries) and Wambo Coal Pty Limited (Wambo Coal) was announced which combines the extraction and exploration rights for a number of mining tenements at United and Wambo (refer to Figure 1.2). The Joint Venture will look to develop the United Wambo Open Cut Coal Mine Project (the Project) that combines the existing open cut operations at Wambo with a proposed new open cut coal mine at United.

The Project is a State Significant Development as defined under State Environmental Planning Policy (State and Regional Development) 2011 and will require development consent under Part 4 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act). The Project will also require a modification to the existing Wambo development consents under section 75W of the EP&A Act.  An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is currently being prepared to accompany these applications.

Information on the current status of the project can be found here: http://majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/index.pl?action=view_job&job_id=7142