EnergyAustralia is in the process of applying to modify an existing approval for a rail unloader next to Pipers Flat Road, which will allow the plant to receive coal from mines by rail.
Mt Piper Power Station manager Malcolm Murphy said EnergyAustralia is seeking to reduce the scale of an unloader proposed by Delta Electricity and approved by the Department of Planning and Environment in 2009.
EA is also seeking to extend the time period of the approval, which lapses next year.
Mr Murphy said building the rail unloader was vital to securing fuel for the lifetime of the power station and that EA hopes Mt Piper will be able to receive coal from other mines in NSW by 2022.
“This project is really around risk. We get supplied by one coal mine,” he said.
“So the coal unloader is really to allow us to run to the end of the station’s life which is 2042, Springvale [mine] runs until 2024. We need more coal plus we need to remove the risk of having just one mine at the moment.”
He said the unloader would provide access to a further two local mines. However, the power station will not necessarily access coal from those mines.
“Clarence and Airly mines have rail connections, so if we had a rail unloader we’d be able to connect their mines or potentially other mines.
“We’re not sure which mines we will get it [coal] from because that’s commercial for later on.”
EA’s modification of Delta Electricity’s design reduces the height of the unloader building and impacted area, confining it to the western area of the initial design, and removes maintenance and storage structures.
“The original design was to complement having two new [energy-generating] units, that never went ahead,” Mr Murphy said.
“We don’t need as much coal, so it’s a smaller unit we’re putting in, that will have less impact on the surrounding area.”
EnergyAustralia will be submitting the modification application to the Department of Planning and Environment at the end of August, after which the plan will be placed on public exhibition.
Mr Murphy said EnergyAustralia was currently in “direct” talks with neighbouring property owners.