14 April 2021

Rocglen team reaches 3,000 days injury-free

More than eight years, or 3000 days, is how long the team at Whitehaven Coal’s Rocglen site has worked without any Lost Time to Injury (LTI), a workplace injury that leads to time off work.

Rocglen is an open-cut coal mine now in rehabilitation, located about 28km north of Gunnedah. Coal mining started in 2008 and concluded in mid-2019. Since late 2019, teams on site have been focused on decommissioning equipment, demolishing structures and removing materials as part of the transition to rehabilitation. Rehabilitation works are scheduled to be complete within the next 24 months, with the following years to include monitoring and maintenance of the area.

3000 days LTI-free is a significant safety milestone, particularly as the site has transitioned from operations to closure and rehabilitation over the period.

“What many people don’t realise is that rehabilitation work involves many of the same risks as a coal-producing mine site, and some new ones,” says Daryl Robinson, Whitehaven Coal’s Closed Mines and Rehabilitation Manager.

“For example, we are still using the same machinery, albeit at reduced numbers. There are still a lot of truck movements and machinery interactions as we continue to haul overburden and create the final landform, but in this case trucks are hauling dirt downhill rather than uphill, which introduces different risks for drivers.

“We’ve had to work hard to maintain safety awareness and focus on site as we’ve moved from a coal producing site to a rehabilitation operation.”

The unique nature of some of the work, such as demolition of structures, requires specialised contractors – and while they are subject to Whitehaven’s strict safety processes and systems, having new people interacting with site personnel introduces new risks. What’s more, the fact that workforce requirements on site are winding down poses its own challenges.

“When any mine site ceases operations, you naturally have some people looking for longer-term job security and moving on to the next job, which means you lose some experience,” adds Daryl.

“At the same time we have some team members who dug the coal out and have stayed on because they now want to see the job finished. Either way when working on closure and rehabilitation, a key challenge is maintaining a skilled workforce with the safety focus, motivation and enthusiasm for the final goal.

“The fact that we’ve been able to manage these new challenges and maintain a safety focus is a testament to everyone who has worked at Rocglen over the years – and we’ll continue to strive for Zero Harm as rehabilitation progresses.”

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 can take place when rehabilitation is deemed to achieve approval conditions by the NSW Government. This 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. Find out more about Rocglen at

Pictured: The Rocglen team at the rehabilitated area planted with tube stock and grass, and timber as habitat for animals. Behind the team is the Vickery State Forest to the right and landform shaping underway to the left. 

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