Rosemount, one of Australia's leading wine companies, is lobbying for talks between winemakers, coalminers and the government to head off potential trouble surrounding plans to develop Australia's largest open-cut coal mine.

The New South Wales State Commission is currently considering a grant of development for the open-cut mine, situated in Mount Arthur North in the Hunter Valley. Rosemount has made public its fears of the potential damage the dust from the mine could do on nearby vineyards.

In 1996, Rosemount lost a case to halt the building of the Bengalla mine situated nearby. However, Brian Dale of Rosemount told the Australian press yesterday that COAL (Coal Operations Ltd) the owners of the Mount Arthur site, had been receptive to concerns.

But he went on to state that a "practical" resolution of the conflicting needs of mining and winemaking needed to be reached if further trouble was to be avoided.

Dale said: "If all mining companies were like COAL, I think the situation would be a lot easier. The Upper Hunter Valley really is becoming a premium wine growing region... and people are becoming concerned at the number of mines being put in up there."

He went on to tell The Australian that there was little reason the wine and coal industries could not co-exist but reconciling their conflicting interests has been "difficult".