The Challenge

Managing a Long Project Approval

Facing significant community opposition and an approval process spanning more than 10 years, it had been a long and uncertain path for the proposed Hume Coal underground mine and Berrima rail loop in the Southern Highlands of NSW.


A turnover of key EH&S staff led to a reduction in internal capacity for the management of health, safety and environmental risk. Additional specialised expertise was required to manage these risks and to assist in collating a qualified expert response to the recommendations of the Independent Planning Commission (IPC), received in May 2019.

Underground Coal Mining, Railtrack, Blend ESQ Consulting
Robyn Johnson, Blend ESQ Director, field work
The Process

Rigour and Relationships

In collaboration with Hume Coal and EMM Consulting, fresh perspective and energy was brought to the arduous approvals process, strengthening the rigour of technical inputs and outputs to the environmental impact assessment process.


A significant environmental background and science-based ethos guided a review of the environmental monitoring program. Continued development of relationships with landholders and monitoring contractors, helped identify opportunities for improvement in data quality and capture, and a reduction in costs.

The Results

Milestone Environmental Approvals

With a collaborative consulting approach, Hume Coal responded to the recommendations of the IPC with credibility. As part of the team, Blend ESQ Director Robyn Johnson provided input into and review of the technical environmental studies that formed the IPC response submitted by EMM Consulting in April 2020.


The resulting technical input and carriage of site inspections and requests for further information, contributed to significant milestones in the Environmental approvals process being met.

Southern Highlands NSW, country road in Autumn, Blend ESQ Consulting
Robyn Johnson, Blend ESQ Director in the field for Hume Coal
The Outcome

EHS Advice and Approvals

This partnership provided assurance and confidence to Hume Coal in the form of maintaining the environmental baseline monitoring program, technical expertise in environmental approvals and management of health and safety across their properties, small team and contractors, whilst they continued through the planning and approvals process.


Robyn worked on the Hume Coal Project between July 2019 and May 2021.

The Client

Hume Coal and POSCO

Hume Coal is owned by POSCO Australia, a subsidiary of the most competitive steel maker in the world. Based in South Korea, POSCO produces some of the finest quality steel and seeks to use the highest quality available metallurgical coal in the world in its manufacturing processes.


Even before the Hume Coal Mine proposal was eventually rejected by the IPC in late August 2021, POSCO Australia had a new vision of creating a sustainable value chain of conventional as well as renewable green raw materials.


Visit the POSCO Australia website to learn more.

Steel making, Blend ESQ for Hume Coal and POSCO
Outsourced ESQ Support
Environmental Baseline Monitoring
Technical Environmental Studies

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