11 July 2023

Full steam ahead thanks to Werris Creek coal donation

Whitehaven Coal is delighted to be powering the Lake Macquarie Live Steam Locomotive Society’s fleet of miniature steam engines.

The Society had been searching for a suitable coal source since the closure of the Morwell coal plant in 2014, which previously supplied briquettes for 65 years. The Society tried and tested an array of alternative fuels but, unfortunately, none met the required standards, often causing operational difficulties.

“We tried a range of different coals and chars,” the Locomotive Society’s Louis Wibberley said.

“From local Hunter coals to Bacchus Marsh briquette char, through to Welsh semi-anthracites, Indonesian briquette wood chars and various BBQ fuels – all with no success. The engines would struggle to operate for an hour before clogging with sticky ash or producing tarry smoke and sparks.”

In mid-2022, the Society turned to coal chemistry and diligent record-keeping to establish a set of desirable coal properties, leading them to identify Whitehaven’s Werris Creek and Narrabri coals as the best match.

Whitehaven was pleased to be able to provide a sample of approximately 200kg for testing, and the results exceeded all expectations.

“Not only did this coal burn efficiently, but it also avoided the issues that had previously plagued the Society’s steam engines,” added Mr Wibberley.

“Our initial success was replicated by the local Quirindi Club, which reported similarly positive experiences. We’re very grateful for Whitehaven’s support.”

Whitehaven has committed to donating further coal supplies to ensure the Lake Macquarie Live Steam Locomotive Society can continue its incredible job of preserving and showcasing the region’s rich steam heritage.

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