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Mine rehabilitation

When rehabilitating mined land, we aim to:


Minimise our impact on the environment
Progressively rehabilitate mine sites in consultation
with stakeholders, and in compliance with regulations
Work with local communities to develop
rehabilitation plans that deliver a positive
outcome for all stakeholders
21 May 2021

Modern rehabilitation of the Melville legacy coal mining site

The original Melville underground entry and
north open-cut void are now filled and
covered with vegetation.

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Rehabilitation objectives

  • Progressively rehabilitate areas, including establishing landforms, during mining
  • Use modern techniques to ensure final landforms are safe, stable and self-sustaining – to support future land uses beyond mining
  • Undertake rehabilitation actions that restore ecosystem functions, including establishing flora ecosystems
  • Undertake rehabilitation that reflects the surrounding landscape, or improves on it
  • Establish landforms that incorporate micro-relief patterns consistent with the surrounding topography
  • Minimise the visual impact of final landforms as far as is reasonable and feasible
Maules Creek Mine
Narrabri Mine
Tarrawonga Mine
Werris Creek Mine
Non-operational mines
Maules Creek Mine
VISIT MINE PAGE
Rehabilitation at Maules Creek Mine will ultimately see the site become a woodland forest of more than 1,000 hectares.

The vast majority of the site will use geomorphic design, a best-practice landscape design process that encompasses a landscape’s natural features to move water through the rehabilitation area and produce more natural looking landforms. It generally requires less maintenance and provides greater stability once established, helping to create self-sustaining environments over the long-term.

Progress
Narrabri Mine
VISIT MINE PAGE
Rehabilitation has been undertaken progressively since operations began in 2010. The historic land use within the mining lease area (ML1609) was predominately agriculture (grazing and cropping) and forestry – and the aim of rehabilitation and mine closure is to return the land to the agricultural land class or vegetation type that existed prior to mining.

Rehabilitation practices include (but are not limited to) sealing boreholes utilised for gas drainage and exploration purposes, and repair of surface subsidence impacts. Woodland areas that have been disturbed are rehabilitated with native vegetation species prevalent in the surrounding area.

While Whitehaven will hold onto the land for decades to come, with mining approved until 2044, areas of rehabilitation on former agricultural and pastured land will be used for light grazing in the coming years.

Progress
Rehabilitation map
Tarrawonga Mine
VISIT MINE PAGE
The planned final land use at Tarrawonga is woodland as well as land suitable for pasture, and as at 1 January 2022, approximately 157 out of a total 568 hectares of woodland has been rehabilitated.

Progressive rehabilitation has been underway since seeding first occurred in 2007. While a traditional rehabilitation landform design has been used, in future we plan to adopt a more geomorphic rehabilitation design allowing better drainage, less maintenance and a more natural appearance.

To provide as much habitat as possible for fauna, we have established standing habitat trees on the slopes of the rehab, and will be installing nest boxes in more progressed rehabilitation areas.

Progress
Werris Creek Mine
VISIT MINE PAGE
Rehabilitation at Werris Creek aims to establish an open box gum woodland on the overburden emplacement area, and a safe, stable and non-polluting landform. As at 1 January 2022, 183 hectares have been rehabilitated.

We use standing “stag” trees recycled from the clearing process to provide instant habitat for local birds, bats and marsupials – a tangible benefit for native species. Some stag trees are placed on the ground to provide habitat for a variety of ground-dwelling species including reptiles, insects, marsupials and birds. We also create boulder clusters, providing habitat for local reptiles and crevices for hiding animals. These allow populations of reptiles to establish within the rehabilitation areas.

Coupled with native groundcover the planting of native canopy seedlings, this approach ensures the open box gum woodland is constantly developing and progressing towards an established and mature ecosystem.

Progress
Sunnyside mine
Rocglen Mine
Melville Mine
Sunnyside mine
VISIT MINE PAGE
Before mining, the area had been cleared for agricultural cultivation and grazing, with a predominantly 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 to create movement corridors between separated woodlands. Key activities until about 2025 include maintenance of the landform to ensure it is safe and stable, and to control feral animals and weeds.

Progress
Rocglen Mine
VISIT MINE PAGE
Coal mining at Rocglen started in 2008 and concluded in mid-2019. Since late 2019, work has included decommissioning equipment, demolishing structures and removing materials as part of the transition to rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation works are scheduled to be complete by late 2022, with the following years to include monitoring and maintenance of the area. The former mine will be returned to woodland vegetation that blends into the surrounding Vickery State Forest, as well as some pasture for grazing. Site relinquishment is expected to take at least ten to fifteen years until post rehabilitation monitoring demonstrates the site is safe and stable with established self-sustaining ecosystems that integrate with its surrounds.

Progress
Melville Mine
Melville sits within the original Black Jack Colliery, an open-cut and underground coal mine about 7km south of Gunnedah that began operation in the 1890s. Mining ceased at the Melville area in 1989, by which time the mining lease had been held by multiple companies. Formal mine closure from the then Department of Mines was never granted.

In 2005 Whitehaven acquired the mining lease for the area as part of the purchase of Namoi Mining, and took on responsibility for rehabilitation of the disused site. The site is at the base of the prominent Black Jack Hill and is highly visible from nearby roads and residences, and Whitehaven worked with neighbouring landholders to ensure the area would have a final landform and land use suitable to the local context, which in this case is grazing land integrated with the surrounding farm land and Black Jack Hill. We are monitoring and maintaining the area as the grassland develops and expect to recommence grazing in 2023-24, before achieving mine closure by around 2030.

Progress
Rehabilitation milestones
Aug 2021
Whitehaven ramps up progressive rehabilitation at Maules Creek
24 August 2021
Read more
Jul 2021
1,341ha
of land rehabilitated
cumulatively
1 July 2021
May 2021
Modern rehabilitation of the Melville legacy coal mining site
21 May 2021
Read more
Nov 2020
Trialling topsoil alternatives at Maules Creek
9 November 2020
Read more
Jul 2020
1100ha
of land rehabilitated
cumulatively
1 July 2020
Jul 2019
884ha
of land rehabilitated
cumulatively
1 July 2019
Jul 2018
751ha
of land rehabilitated
cumulatively
1 July 2018
Jan 2018
Progressive rehabilitation at Whitehaven | video
9 January 2018
Read more
Jul 2017
668ha
of land rehabilitated
cumulatively
1 July 2017

Mine rehabilitation in NSW

It is the responsibility of the NSW Resources Regulator to ensure that land disturbed by exploration and mining activities is returned to a safe, stable and sustainable land use. The Regulator monitors rehabilitation activity and has a range of tools to ensure rehabilitation is undertaken in a timely manner and in accordance with approved commitments.

If a mining project is approved in NSW, the required rehabilitation outcomes are incorporated into the conditions of the development consent. A rehabilitation security bond must also be provided before exploration and mining activities begin, ensuring sufficient money is held by the government should a company default on its rehabilitation obligations.

Find out more at resourcesregulator.nsw.gov.au/rehabilitation

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