The Whitehaven Coal Ltd (ASX: WHC) share price has stepped into the green on Thursday.
At one stage Whitehaven shares were as high as $3.18. They have since partially retreated and at the time of writing are swapping hands for $3.11 apiece. That’s a rise of 2.98% on the day.
Whitehaven shares are on the move after the company gained regulatory approval for a controversial coal expansion project that’s been on the slab since July.
There’s a lot of moving parts here – but don’t worry, we’ve done the analysis for you.
What was announced today?
Whitehaven Coal advised that controversial plans to extend open-cut operations at its Vickery metallurgical coal project in New South Wales have now been approved.
The company announced that Federal Minister for the Environment, Susan Ley, had awarded environmental consent for the coal giant to proceed with its $600 million extension plans.
The extension project was approved under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, as per the release.
Back in July, a Federal Court ordered the government to assess the potential harm young people could face from additional carbonisation as a result of the expansion, before approving Whitehaven’s plans.
However, Ley’s ruling will ensure annual coal extraction will more than double to around 10 million tonnes at the Vickery project.
Whitehaven “welcomed” the decision, which it stated was the “culmination of an exhaustive process” that took more than 5 years.
This included a “period of public exhibition” from the NSW government. During this, 62% of the public submissions called for the project’s approval due to the “substantial local economic benefits” on offer.
Whitehaven sees a “continuing role” for the high-quality coal that Vickery can produce. This is against a background of “record high coal prices and strong demand in seaborne markets”.
“Major employment-generating investments will be essential” as Australia navigates its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, Whitehaven concluded.
Investors appear to agree with this sentiment and have pushed the Whitehaven Coal share price 3% higher following the release.
Whitehaven Coal share price snapshot
The Whitehaven Coal share price has gained steam over the last few months.
It has posted a year-to-date return of 87%. It is also up 238% over the past 12 months. That’s well ahead of the S&P/ASX 200 index (ASX: XJO)’s gain of around 25% over the same time.