Shenhua Watermark Coal will start an exploration drilling program this week (Monday, January 13).
In a public notice, printed in the Namoi Valley Independent on January 9, the company said it would undertake further exploration drilling within the exploration license boundary.
The work is expected to start on January 13 and finish by the end of June.
"Exploration activities will be operating one drill rig on a single day shift basis, with the daily maximum hours being 11 hours," the company said in a stetment released last Thursday.
"Exploration activities will occur Monday to Friday, generally between 7am and 6pm; Saturday between 8am and 1pm, with no work occurring on Sundays or public holidays."
In the notice, the company stated it was advising people of the work to fulfil a requirement of the license work plan approved by the Department of Resources and Geoscience.
In late 2019, Shenhua approached a number of landholders in the Liverpool Plains, seeking to run power poles through properties to provide electricity to the proposed coal mine site.
The Chinese mining company attempted to negotiate with at least three landowners, who all rejected the offer. However, it's understood the company has found a solution.
Gunnedah councillors recently voted to write to both the state and federal governments, requesting they "urgently progress" the Shenhua mine.
"Gunnedah, like any other country town, is not in a very good state," Cr Colleen Fuller said.
"I'm just a little bit disappointed that government hasn't come forward and moved on this a little quicker.
"The direct jobs that it's going to create for this town will be massive ... I'd like to think that our young people can stay in our town."
Shenhua is planning to develop the proposed open-cut mine on the Liverpool Plains, near Breeza, south-west of Gunnedah, and extract 10 million tonnes of coal a year over 30 years.
Shenhua was granted its original exploration licence (EL) 7223 by the NSW Minister for Mineral Resources in October 2008, with a two-year renewal granted in July 13, 2018.
EL7223 expires on 22 October 2021, the company said.
In accordance with the EL7223 Work Plan, approved by the Department of Resources and Geoscience, Shenhua Watermark will undertake exploration drilling on properties within the EL boundary that are all owned by Shenhua Watermark (ALSO READ:Money pit: NSW's $262m Shenhua deal a coal dud)
The Watermark Drilling Program consists of open cut mine infill drilling for coal structure and quality.
In its statement, Shenhua said "the commencement of the drilling program is expected to begin early January 2020 with a completion date of approximately June 30, 2020".
The company has a deadline to have it's environmental management plans submitted and approved by June 30 so it can also apply for a mining lease, after which point thje government will make its decision as to whether approve a mining licence.
The licence includes a cancellation clause which allows government to effectively terminate the project on June 30, 2020, if Shenhua fails to bring the project to production stage by applying for a mining licence (ALSO READ:Shenhua set two year deadline to dig Liverpool Plains coal mine).
The environmental management plan includes the interim koala habitat plan (approved and currently being implemented), koala plan of management (in preparation), biodiversity management plan (in preparation) and rehabilitation management plan (in preparation).