In mid-October, the Upper Hunter Community was relieved to hear that the Rix’s Creek South Mine was to remain open until 2040.
This was good news for the Rix’s Creek Open Cut Mine employees, after a decision to continue the mine was published on the 4th of October only to be reversed hours later by the NSW Independent Planning Commission due to ‘human error’.
Now that we know the mine is here to stay, let’s find out what it means for Singleton and its surrounds.
Mining has occurred around the Rix’s Creek area since the 1850s. Coal was sold to make fires in homes and inns and innkeepers were the first to mine coal in the area.
Mining at Rix’s Creek was developed by James Singleton, whose brother Benjamin acquired the land on which Singleton is built. The mine closed in 1917 and mining in the area dwindled until electricity became a standard commodity after WWII.
By the 1970s mining was a large industry in Singleton and surrounds. In fact, the town’s population had mushroomed from 2,996 people in 1947 to 12,359 in 1976 due in no small part to the lure of the mines.
The Bloomfield Group
The Rix’s Creek Open Cut Mine has been operated by the Bloomfield Group since 1990 and is just 5km northwest of Singleton. The mine incorporates Rix’s Creek South and Rix’s Creek North (formerly Integra) operations.
It is the Bloomfield Group’s largest mine, employing around 300 locals and produces thermal coal and semi-soft coking coal primarily for export. Coal from Rix’s Creek is transported to the Port of Newcastle by rail and loaded onto ships using Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS).
Aside from mining the operation also provides coal washing and bulk handling services for another producer.
Bloomfield Collieries Pty Ltd lodged a state significant development (SSD) application to expand its Rix’s Creek South Mine Operations this was approved on 12th of October.
It was referred to the commission because some locals were concerned about noise and dust pollution as well as visual and heritage impacts.
Benefits to the Economy
25 million tonnes of coal worth more than $104 million in royalties is likely to be recovered from the mine over the extended period.
The mine employs 255 full-time workers and 44 full-time-equivalent contractors.
The value of wages will be $21 million annually.
Benefits to the Community
Coal is a major employer in the Hunter Valley. There are 40 different mines open, which employ 9000 workers and drive the local economy.
In Singleton Shire mining makes up 64% percent of its gross regional product and 41% of its jobs.
The decision to keep the mine open means that Bloomfield Group’s initiatives like the Bloomfield Group Foundation, which funds community-based programs and projects, will remain open.
Local retailers and dining establishments are also likely to cash in on the influx of regular customers as the areas retain jobs.
Benefits for Real Estate
The extension of the mine is a win-win for Hunter Valley investors. In 2017, areas that were formerly populated by those in the industry began to boom due to their proximity to the Hunter Expressway.
Now that industry growth is on the cards, the Upper Hunter is likely to lure workers and families in with jobs and the high quality of lifestyle on offer, especially compared to less enticing areas like the coalfields in Central Queensland.
Landlords in the Upper Hunter may be able to capitalise on their investment, as their properties will be lucrative to out-of-area workers.
The rest of the Hunter Valley will continue to attract first-home buyers who were priced out of the Sydney market as well as permanent and temporary tree changers.