State legislation has been amended to prevent open-cut mining on the controversial Drayton South site in the NSW Hunter region.

The change prohibits open-cut mining in the exploration licence on the outskirts of Muswellbrook no matter who owns the land, NSW Department of Planning and Environment deputy secretary Marcus Ray says.

The decision follows significant backlash from the community because of the site’s close proximity to world-renowned horse studs in the Upper Hunter.

The independent Planning and Assessment Commission has previously refused open-cut mining on the land.

‘This amendment brings certainty to the residents and other industries in the Upper Hunter,’ Mr Ray said in a statement on Friday.

‘Specifically, this amendment will protect the integrity and value of the world-renowned horse studs in the Upper Hunter.’

The prize-winning Coolmore and Godolphin thoroughbred operations, which have housed champions including Black Caviar and Winx, had argued they’d be forced to leave the area if the mine was approved.

Underground mining will not be prohibited on the site which is now owned by Australian company Malabar Coal.