The Ridgelands Exploration Project is a coal exploration project covered by Exploration Licence (EL 8064), granted to Ridgelands Coal Resources Pty Limited (‘Ridgelands’). The licence (‘EL’) gives Ridgelands the authority to explore for coal, subject to certain conditions, in an area centred on Ridgelands Road approximately 20 km northwest of Muswellbrook.
The EL was originally granted on 27 February 2013 by the NSW Department of Trade and Investment – Division of Resources and Energy (DRE) for an initial period of 5 years up until February 2018. Ridgelands has recently submitted an application to the current NSW Department of Planning and Environment, Division of Resources and Geoscience (DRG) to renew the licence for an additional term of 6 years. This application is still being considered by the DRG.
The EL does not grant the right to mine for coal or coal seam gas. However, the exploration project aims to develop a conceptual mine plan and may therefore potentially lead to a subsequent application for a future Mining Lease. A separate Government approvals process would be required at the conclusion of exploration activities to seek permission to mine.
Ridgelands Exploration Project
The Ridgelands Exploration Project includes: environmental flora, fauna and archaeological surveys; geotechnical and groundwater studies; drilling and geophysical surveying to determine the nature and extent of the underlying coal resource. These findings are reported back to the DRG. Landholder consultation is an important part of the project and will be undertaken in line with the new government guidelines.
The Licence Area
The EL covers 7643 hectares in the Manobolai area north of Wybong, roughly bounded by Dry Creek Road to the west, Castlerock Road to the east and Ridgelands Road (north of the intersection with Wybong Road) to the south. There are about 250 separate land titles in the licence area, with land uses including residential, mining, viticulture, equine, conservation, small scale agriculture and Crown Land.
Ridgelands Coal Resources Pty Ltd is an Australian company with headquarters in Sydney. It is part of the Ridgelands group, ultimately owned by a Hong Kong-based parent company. The EL is Ridgelands' only current coal interest in NSW.