The company now plans to develop the mine by accelerating ahead with the detailed design phase for underdround operations.

Commenting on the developments BHP Billiton New South Wales energy coal representative Peter Sharpe elaborated that the company is expected to submit an Environmental Impact Study in the near future that takes into account the views of the community, government and other stakeholders.

"We have done a number of conceptual mine plans that have allowed us to determine what we want to target in our detailed design phase, and that is what we’re now entering into," said Sharpe.

The Environmental Impact Study will be subject to analysis by the Independent Expert Scientific Committee under the Strategic Land Use Policy of the state government.