New South Wales will allow Korean-owned Hume Coal to drill exploratory boreholes in the Sutton Forest region despite objections from some residents including the Southern Highlands Coal Action Group (SHCAG).
NSW Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts approved the company's application to drill 25 boreholes in September 2014.
It was this decision that the SHCAG was seeking to have declared void, however, that challenged was dismissed by the NSW Land and Environment Court dismissed, ABC Australia reported.
In her judgement, Justice Nicola Pain said there was no likelihood that the exploration program would significantly affect the environment.
“There is no threat of serious or irreversible damage to the environment if considered in the context of the precautionary principle,” she ruled.
“As SHCAG has been unsuccessful, its amended summons should be dismissed.”
Hume Coal's project director Greg Duncan said he was pleased, but not surprised, by the ruling.
“Once again, the Action Group have been shown to have no credibility,” he said.
“The court actually commended us on our work and in their words described our rehabilitation of the land after drilling as best practice.
“We do the right thing and we follow due process to the letter of the law in everything we do.”
Hume Coal is preparing to start work on an environmental impact statement so it can lodge a development application to build its proposed coalmine in mid-2016.
Duncan said the application would be for a low-impact underground coal mine which he anticipated would employ about 300 locals.
“Operationally, it's going to be what we call a low-impact, first workings mine,” he said.
“It will use an innovative mining method to extract a minimal amount of coal but still be very productive to provide metallurgical coal for steel-making around the world.”