Glencore Xstrata’s Bulga Underground mine, near Singleton in the Hunter Valley, is now producing more than just coal. It’s also producing olive oil.
The mine owns Atulya Olive Grove, which shares land with the mine. So while our miners are producing coal underground, olive grower Andrew Waite is busy producing olives above it.
You see, Andrew's been growing olives in the Hunter Valley for 14 years, where he looks after a total of 40,000 olive trees. What makes his operation unique is that the 6,000 olive trees at the Atulya Olive Grove are growing above Glencore Xstrata’s Bulga Underground mine.
When Glencore Xstrata set up operations in the area, it wanted the land above the mine to be used productively, so our miners worked with Andrew to establish Atulya Olive Grove. He also runs River Flats Estate, his family-owned olive grove down the road and the produce from that grove is sold at his family’s store in Broke.
Atulya Olive Grove produces Frantoia and Correggiola olives, varieties originating from Tuscany. Last year, there were 50 tonnes of olives produced and processed locally for olive oils used for cooking.
“The mine has sold, in the past, to other growers to substitute their crops and increase their volume of production each year,” Andrew says. “They’ve also helped out growers who have lost their crops in the past, so that they would maintain a crop, so it’s been beneficial for other growers in the area for that reason.”
Most importantly, although the olive grove operates above a productive coal mine, Andrew says that the mine’s operation hasn't had any major impact on the trees. "The quality of the product has been good," he says. "I try and maintain the same standard on that property as I would on any other property."
"It has been great having Andrew bring his expertise to Atulya," says Ralph Northey, Glencore Xstrata’s Environment and Community Manager at Bulga Coal Complex. "We believe in maintaining a sustainable community with a variety of industries in the area. It’s a good example of mining agriculture working together."