Whitehaven Coal has applied for a new exploration licence near Gunnedah in New South Wales. Whitehaven Logo

The application covers 936 hectares of land including private property on both sides of the Oxley Highway.

If granted approval, Whitehaven would be allowed to geologically survey and map the area with further approval required to commence drilling.

Whitehaven said the area was known to hold coal reserves and that the land was near its existing coal handling and preparation plant, ABC reported.

“Coal is known to exist in the area from an observed outcrop on Pyramid Hill and waterbore drilling,” spokesman said.

“This is the first time an exploration permit has been issued over the area.”

The application is open for public comment until December 11