The New South Wales (NSW) Independent Planning Commission (IPC) has granted development consent to Malabar Coal’s A$509m ($385m) Maxwell Ventures underground coal mine in the Muswellbrook Local Government Area, south-eastern Australia.

In its decision, the Commission concluded that the project’s potential impacts can be “reasonably and satisfactorily” identified, avoided, mitigated and managed.

The development consent, however, is subject to 169 conditions to avoid serious or irreversible damage; and avoid, minimise and manage potential impacts on biodiversity and heritage.

Planning approval has already been secured to develop the new mine located to the north of Jerrys Plains, in the Muswellbrook Local Government Area.

The mine is expected to produce approximately 148 million tonnes of Run of Mine coal over its operational life of 26 years.

The project is hosted on exploration licence (EL) 5460, which used to be Anglo American’s Drayton South coal project, together with the neighbouring Drayton open-cut mine site.

According to the IPC, the site is only permitted for underground work as the risks of adverse impacts on the environment are low, particularly on the neighbouring thoroughbred stallions.

“The Commission finds that, on balance, and when weighed against the relevant climate change policy framework, objects of the [Environmental Planning & Assessment] Act, [Ecologically Sustainable Development] principles and socio-economic benefits, the potential impacts associated with the Project are manageable,” its Statement of Reasons for Decision noted.

Malabar Coal chairman Wayne Seabrook said that the company will begin next steps to start construction in 2021.

Seabrook added: “It will deliver about 250 construction jobs and 350 jobs during operation into the region, generating $55 million in annual wages once the project is up and running.

“The project will also support local businesses and suppliers over the next three decades, and provide a real boost to the local economy, particularly during this challenging period.”