13 July 2022

Rehabilitation progressing at Sunnyside

Rehabilitation is well underway at Sunnyside, with vegetation now established at the former open-cut mine located 15 kilometres west of Gunnedah in North West NSW.

The mine was operational between 2008 and 2012, followed by a period when operations halted (referred to as ‘care and maintenance’) before resuming operations from 2017. The site transitioned to decommissioning and final rehabilitation in late 2019. 



“Once coal mining stopped, there was still plenty to do, and most of our team stayed on work on the rehabilitation – they wanted to see the job done,” said Daryl Robinson, Whitehaven Closed Mines and Rehabilitation Manager.

“The majority of the crew were able to move on to other Whitehaven sites – whether that be to support on rehabilitation works at Rocglen, or onto our operational mines like Tarrawonga or Maules Creek.”

Whilst rehabilitation has been undertaken progressively over the life of the mine, bulk earthworks within the void could only be undertaken when operations ceased. This has included hauling overburden to backfill the void, shaping the landform, and placing and spreading soil and seed mix. Other activities included demolition and removal of all fixed infrastructure and additional bulk earthworks to reshape the overburden dump.

“The position of the former mine within the landscape has allowed us to backfill the void left by mining, which is not always possible,” added Mr Robinson.

Before mining, the area had predominantly been cleared for agricultural cultivation and grazing, with a principally cropping and pastoral land use. The rehabilitation process is intended to return the site to pastures in the flat areas (approx. 54.43 ha) and woodland (approx. 35.3 ha) on the slopes, to reflect the surrounding vegetation.

While the majority will be agricultural land, the rehabilitation strategy also includes enhancing biodiversity – in particular, some areas that were not disturbed by mining are being planted with tree species used by koalas. This is to create movement corridors between separated woodlands.

Now that vegetation has been established, priority activities include maintenance of the rehabilitated landform to ensure it is safe and stable, and to control feral animals and weeds. For the pasture areas, Whitehaven will undertake trials with cattle or sheep into 2023 or 2024, to confirm the land can support grazing.

Find out more about mine rehabilitation at Whitehaven Coal here..

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