Rehabilitation case studies

On-ground rehabilitation action

 

Newlands, Glencore

Newlands is located 33 kilometres north-west of the township of Glenden in the northern part of the Bowen Basin, Queensland. It includes an open cut and longwall mining operation, producing steaming coal and coking coal for export markets via the Abbot Point Bulk Coal export terminal.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Glencore worked collaboratively with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (now Department of Environment and Science) to certify rehabilitated land associated with part of an overburden emplacement area. The mined land was progressively rehabilitated in three sections over 19 years ago (in 1995, 1997 and 1998) to habitat suitable for flora and fauna.

On 2 June 2017, 73.48 hectares of rehabilitated land was certified by the Queensland Government. At the time of approval, Newlands was the first open cut mine in the State to receive certification. This milestone marked a significant achievement and provided a constructive way forward for both Government and the mining sector in encouraging further certification of progressive rehabilitation.

Since then, the team at Newlands has achieved progressive certification for another 138 hectares of rehabilitation. On 28 May 2021, the Queensland Government signed off on land that was mined in the 1990s and rehabilitated to support agricultural practices, including cattle grazing. This represents the eighth successful application for Glencore across its sites.

Newlands has now rehabilitated more than 100 hectares of mined land every year since 2017.

 


Rolleston, Glencore

Rolleston is located in the southern part of the Bowen Basin, approximately 16 kilometres west of the Rolleston township and 140 kilometres south-east of Emerald in Queensland. It is an open cut operation producing low ash content thermal coal for export via ports in Gladstone or the domestic market.

Rolleston is committed to progressive rehabilitation with the objective of returning land disturbed by mining primarily to pasture for livestock grazing. As operations advance, mined land is rehabilitated with native tree species, and native and improved pasture grass species.

On 25 June 2018, 220.6 hectares of rehabilitated land was certified by the Queensland Government. The area was progressively rehabilitated between 2007 and 2015 and includes a trial area of 10 hectares to establish Semi-Evergreen Vine Thicket. On 22 November 2019, a further 166 hectares was certified adding to Glencore’s growing portfolio.

Watch how the team at Rolleston has made the transformation.

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Collinsville, Glencore

Collinsville is Queensland’s oldest coal mine having operated for almost 100 years. It is located in the northern part of the Bowen Basin, approximately 270 kilometres south east of Townsville in Queensland. Open cut operations produce a variety of coking and steaming coal products for both overseas and domestic markets.

As operations advance, mined land is progressively rehabilitated to pasture grass species with the post mining land use for Collinsville being grazing. Between 2012 and 2019, the site had rehabilitated more land than it has disturbed for mining.

On 15 October 2020, 99.5 hectares of rehabilitated land was certified by the Queensland Government. The team at Collinsville have also collaborated with a neighbouring private landholder to use this area for cattle grazing.

 


Oaky Creek, Glencore

Oaky Creek is located in Central Queensland’s Bowen Basin, 90 kilometres north-west of Emerald and 46 kilometres south-west of Middlemount. Open cut operations ceased in 2006 while underground operations continue to produce metallurgical coal for export.

Previous open cut mining areas have been rehabilitated and transformed into a landscape supporting mature and sustained (demonstrated species reproduction from seeding) native vegetation with the potential for cattle grazing. On 16 December 2020, 132.8 hectares of rehabilitated land was certified by the Queensland Government.

The team at Oaky Creek continues to work on achieving completion criteria for other areas of rehabilitation across the site. In striving towards this and future certification applications, another 369 hectares of rehabilitation was undertaken in 2020.

 


Wilkie Creek, Peabody

Wilkie Creek is located within the Western Downs Regional Council, approximately 40 kilometres west of Dalby and approximately 12 kilometres west of Macalister township in south-east Queensland. It was an open cut mine producing low sulphur, low nitrogen, and lower emissions thermal coal. At the end of 2013, Peabody announced the cessation of coal mining operations.

The team at Wilkie Creek has transformed land disturbed by mining into a rehabilitated landform tried and tested for pastoral activities in collaboration with local landholders. Consultation with these neighbours informed the levelling and reshaping of the final landform, soil quality and appropriate pasture species.

Peabody’s efforts were later recognised, on 8 February 2019, with 86.67 hectares of rehabilitated land certified by the Queensland Government.

Watch how the site is being transitioned to the next land use.

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Millennium, Peabody

Millennium is on target to complete its rehabilitation of mined land two years ahead of schedule (by 2020) demonstrating the operation’s commitment to its environmental obligations and long-term sustainability.

Watch Millennium’s progress in accelerating its rehabilitation.

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New Acland, New Hope Group

New Acland is located north-west of Oakey in Queensland. Operations commenced in 2002 and the mine produces thermal coal.

Mined land is progressively rehabilitated to pasture. Once established, the land is segregated from mining activities and transferred to the management of Acland Pastoral Company who oversee grazing and cropping activities. During drought conditions, the rehabilitated land has provided a significant aid for pastoral operations. New Acland’s approach to rehabilitation has demonstrated successful co-existence of mining and agriculture.

On 1 November 2018, 349 hectares of rehabilitated land was certified by the Queensland Government. This adds to New Hope Group’s portfolio in leading environmental practices, including being awarded the 2016 ABA100 Winner of the Australian Business Award for Sustainability for scientific cattle grazing trials on rehabilitated land among other matters.

Watch how the team at New Acland have transformed the site and successfully demonstrated the co-existence of two land uses.

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Dawson Mine, Anglo American

Anglo American continues to pursue best practice mine rehabilitation across its business, including at Dawson Mine. This operation has been leading the way in innovative rehabilitation approaches, such as blasting techniques to reshape void highwalls, to achieve a post-mining landform for future use with the focus being grazing.

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Under Anglo American’s Sustainable Mining Plan, the company directs efforts to minimising impacts and delivering positive and lasting environmental outcomes. In meeting this commitment, 165 hectares of rehabilitated land at Dawson Mine is currently being used by local cattle graziers and cattle grazing trials are resulting in strong weight gain. This work has been showcased in the Mineral Council of Australia’s ‘More to Mining‘ campaign, which builds awareness of the industry’s approach to its environmental responsibilities.
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Gregory Crinum, BHP Mitsubishi Alliance

Gregory Crinum was owned and operated by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), a joint venture between BHP and Mitsubishi Development Pty Ltd, until 27 March 2019 when the sale of the site to Sojitz Corporation was completed. Gregory Crinum is a hard, coking coal mine located 60 kilometres north-east of Emerald in the Bowen Basin, Queensland. In 2016, production ceased and the site was placed into care and maintenance.

BMA had undertaken a broad scope of restorative works to rehabilitate the land both during the course of its mining activities and after they had ceased, from closing exploration boreholes and cracks to removing surface infrastructure, ripping ground to encourage regeneration of vegetation and re-shaping the landscape to make it more suitable for re-use. Some of the rehabilitated land is now being used for a mix of grazing and cropping by neighbouring landholders.

On 16 October 2018, 1,176 hectares of rehabilitated land related to previous underground mining was certified by the Queensland Government. At the time, this represented the largest tract of mining-affected land ever certified by the State.

 


Norwich Park, BHP Mitsubishi Alliance

Norwich Park is a hard, coking coal open cut mine located 25 kilometres south-east of Dysart and 256 kilometres south-west of Mackay in the Bowen Basin, Queensland. In 2012, production ceased and the site was placed into care and maintenance.

BHP Mitsubishi Alliance has undertaken a broad scope of restorative works to rehabilitate the land both during the course of its mining activities and after they had ceased, from re-shaping the landscape, ripping, ameliorating, spreading topsoil and seeding to encourage revegetation to make the land suitable for its agreed post mining land use. Some of this rehabilitated land is now being used for grazing by neighbouring landholders. On 7 February 2019, 294 hectares of rehabilitated land was certified by the Queensland Government.

 

Research initiatives

New technology for red mud rehabilitation – University of Queensland, Rio Tinto and Queensland Alumina Limited

Researchers from the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) have been working with Rio Tinto Aluminum’s Yarwun Refinery and Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) since 2018 on developing the technology for rehabilitating the waste also known as red mud.

Currently, Alumina refineries in Australia and overseas are facing enormous environmental and economic challenges in rehabilitating red mud as conventional methods to develop sustainable ecosystems are very expensive. Significant volumes of bauxite residues or ‘red mud’ are being stored in dams at alumina refineries worldwide. Caustic soda and alkaline minerals that remain in the red mud make it difficult to overcome the extremely alkaline and salty conditions in the short-term.

The research aims to understand the fundamental processes to break barriers of persistent and reversible alkalinity and salinity in red mud within a short time frame, and improve the reliability and operability of the new technology. This has been the biggest obstacle to many decades of efforts to rehabilitate the vast areas of red mud landscapes worldwide. If successful the research would significantly impact the economic and ecological sustainability of the alumina industry in Australia.

As at September 2021, bio-engineering technology transforming the mining industry’s red mud into a soil-like material capable of hosting plant life entered into its final stage of testing. With further funding from Rio Tinto and QAL, SMI will soon trial the technology at an operational scale at two red mud sites.