Caroona Coal Project

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					                                                                                                                                         Project information sheet Edition 1

                                                                                                       Caroona Coal
                                                                                                       Project                                                       March 2006

Community involvement                                                                                  In February 2006, the NSW Minister for Mineral Resources announced the
The Caroona Coal Project team encourages all community members to be involved in community             coal exploration licence for the Caroona area will be awarded to BHP
consultation and participation activities. The long-term planning and study process will ensure that   Billiton. The Exploration Licence allows the BHP Billiton Caroona Coal
community members have ongoing opportunities to discuss their issues with the project team.            Project team to continue the exploration conducted by the Department of
                                                                                                       Mineral Resources since the early 1970s.
The project team wants to learn more about your area and the issues that are important to you to
assist us in determining strategies that could reduce impacts and maximise benefits for the local      The earlier exploration work has indicated a substantial coal resource
and regional area. While we need to talk with everyone before we can fully understand all the          in the Caroona area, the ongoing program will test the viability of coal
concerns we are aware that water and surface subsidence are high priority concerns.                    mining. During this period it is crucial to BHP Billiton that we addresses
                                                                                                       all the components of a sustainable development in the Caroona area,
The project team is committed to providing information to the community throughout the project.        these include:
We are currently preparing for consultation activities and events in the area, including, meeting
land owners, information days at Spring Ridge, Caroona, Breeza, Quirindi and Gunnedah and                 technical,
ongoing editions of this newsletter. These opportunities for involvement are in addition to the           economic,
Caroona Consultative Committee mentioned in the introduction.
                                                                                                          environmental and
Information on how you can meet the project team to discuss the project further will be outlined
                                                                                                          social viability of coal mining.
in future newsletters and the local media.
                                                                                                       The Caroona Coal Project exploration and studies will take approximately
                                                                                                       four to five years to complete. Approval to develop a mine in the area
                                                                                                       will not be given until the NSW government requirements are met and
Further information                                                                                    community concerns and expectations are addressed.
If you would like further information on any aspect of the Caroona Coal Project please contact the     BHP Billiton will immediately begin a community consultation program
project team by:                                                                                       which will provide numerous opportunities for all stakeholders to have an
   Phoning the freecall number on 1800 216 266                                                         input into the project. This will be supported by the Caroona Consultative
                                                                                                       Committee, established by the Department of Minerals Resources, as a
   E-mailing                                                        forum for open discussion between appointed community representatives,
To learn more about processes and requirements relating to land owners, exploration and land           relevant government agencies, other interested stakeholders and the
access please visit the DPI website:                                                                   Caroona Coal Project team. Mr Garry West (former NSW State Minister                                                  and Member for Orange) was recently announced as the chair of the
                                                                                                       Community Consultative Committee, details of the committee will be
If you cannot access the website please contact the project team for assistance.                       available in the near future.
In the coming months the project team will develop a webpage to provide you with more                  The development of coal mining operations in the region will bring many
information about the Caroona Coal Project. We can also send newsletters and other information to      benefits to the local communities through employment opportunities,
you. When contacting the project team please let them know if you would like further information       increased regional services and infrastructure and economic growth. BHP
by email or postal address.                                                                            Billiton is excited to have been provided the opportunity to work closely
                                                                                                       with the local communities whilst investigating the coal mining potential
                                                                                                       in the Caroona area over the coming years.
What is an exploration licence?                                                                       Planning
An exploration licence provides the Caroona Coal Project team with the opportunity to investigate     Currently the Caroona Coal Project is in its very early stages. The
the viability of coal mining within the exploration licence area. A further approval, from the NSW    project team anticipate that exploration and studies for potential mine
government, is required before any decision to develop a coal mine is undertaken. This requires       development will take between four and five years to complete.
the submission of mine development plans supported by Environmental and Social Assessment and         During this time a number of planning phases will be completed to
formal community consultation.                                                                        ensure New South Wales Government approval requirements are met.
Prior to the commencement of any exploration activities we must meet with individual land owners      These studies will ensure a balanced consideration of all relevant factors
within the area providing them with information about the project and for some seeking their          including community expectations, environmental impacts, geology,
permission to access their property. We expect this period of consultation to take between four to    resource utilisation and economic feasibility. Opportunities for community
six months and will be completed before drilling activity occurs.                                     input will be part of all project phases.
We are aware of the close links between the land and people’s livelihood and during this time         Key activities of the upcoming planning and study phases include:
we would like to understand what is important to land owners so we can plan our activities                          Continuing community and stakeholder consultation and participation
to work together on issues such as crop cycles and high rainfall periods. We will operate our                       to understand the local area and potential issues related to mine
exploration activities under strict environmental and community guidelines which will include open                  development.
communication with and respect for local communities and interest groups.
                                                                                                                    Planning and conducting exploration within the exploration licence
The project team will use the information from initial stages of the project to accurately identify                 area to determine the extent of coal resources.
the location and size of the coal seams as well their relationship with surface improvements and
natural features as well as other geological structures, such as alluvial deposits and aquifers.                    Assessing surface features and preliminary impacts of different mining
The exploration licence area                                                                                        Initiating environmental assessments to understand issues such as
                                                                                                                    water and noise impacts, flora and fauna and cultural heritage.
The Caroona Coal Exploration area is located about 50km Southeast of Gunnedah and 30km
Northwest of Quirindi. Caroona and nearby Walhallow Village are within the exploration area and                     Identifying areas within the licence area for more detailed exploration
Spring Ridge is just to the west. The area covered by the exploration licence is approximately                      and assessment.
350km2 and comprises part of the Department of Primary Industries held Authorization 216.             The planning process will include the following key steps over the next
The Kamilaroi Highway, between Gunnedah and Quirindi, passes through the eastern part of the          four to five years.
exploration licence area and the Werris Creek-Binnaway Branch railway passes from east to west
through the centre of the area. The following map provides further detail of the Exploration
Licence area.                                                                                         We are                      Step 1       This phase will include the following activities:
                                                                                                      here                                       consulting local communities and            preliminary sensitivity assessment of
                                                                                                                                                 defining local issues and opportunities     surface features
                                                                                                                                    and          preparing exploration and geological        establishing baseline environmental
                                                                                                                                preliminary      modelling, including groundwater and        and social requirements

                                                                                                       Community involvement
                                                                                                                                                 other features                              assessing potential constraints to mining.

                                                                                                                                               This phase will include the following activities:
                                                                                                                                  Step 2
                                                                                                                                                 continuing community consultation and      evaluating mining options and
                                                                                                                                Preliminary      awareness                                  preliminary assessment of risks
                                                                                                                               mine planning     continuing exploration drilling            identifying the more viable areas for
                                                                                                                                assessment       continuing baseline environmental and      potential mining operations.
                                                                                                                                                 social requirements

                                                                                                                                  Step 3       This phase will include the following activities:
                                                                                                                                                 detailed consultation with stakeholders    seeking specific community input on
                                                                                                                                                 on outcome from previous steps             mining alternatives, infrastructure
                                                                                                                                sensitivity      detailed surface sensitivity assessment    placement, natural features and mine
                                                                                                                                assessment       identifying mine planning constraints      planning constraints.

                                                                                                                                  Step 4       This phase will include the following activities:
                                                                                                                               Detailed mine     re-evaluating the mine plan alternatives      optimising technical, economic,
                                                                                                                                                 based on community feedback                   environmental and social issues
                                                                                                                                                 conducted in previous stages                  selecting the preferred mine plan.

                                                                                                                                  Step 5       This phase will include the following activities:
                                                                                                                                                 preparing an environmental assessment       formal consultation period with
                                                                                                                                                 and management plans for mining             community and government.
                                                                                                                                 approval        approval application

      Exploration license area    Council boundary

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