Progressive rehabilitation for a quality end result
August 09, 2012

Located 15 kilometres east of Boggabri in the State’s Northwest, Whitehaven Coal’s Canyon Mine finished operations in June 2009. But thanks to the work done during the life of the mine, full rehabilitation was successfully completed in just one year, with the site now under closure and maintenance.

At Canyon Mine, areas of land no longer required for mining or for stockpiling overburden (material which is excavated during mining) were rehabilitated as mining continued into new areas.

Reshaping the overburden, replacing subsoil and topsoil, establishing water management structures and seeding a cover crop allowed restoration of both grazing land and woodland. After all of that work was done, the environmental experts at the mine only needed to do some final reshaping and planting when the mine was closed. 

But work hasn’t stopped there. The monitoring approach is highly innovative and combines remotely sensed data from satellite imagery, LiDAR and EM38 (electro-magnetic survey) with targeted field survey.  The remotely sensed data covers the entire site, and permits statistical comparison of performance over time and against control areas.  Field survey methods have been designed specifically to cater to both agricultural or native woodland landscape outcomes.

The final pit void prior to reshaping 476 x 230Final pit void after reshaping and cover cropping 476 x 207

The final pit void prior to reshaping and then after reshaping and cover cropping

 

Things are progressing well. The monitoring has found good regeneration of the former mine site, particularly native perennial grass and herb cover. Tree and shrub plantings are also looking good and monitoring of the agricultural lands show performance is consistent with the agricultural control areas. Whitehaven will continue to care for and maintain the Canyon Mine site until the land is ready for release to agricultural and woodland purposes.

Importantly, the remotely sensed data provides an historical record that documents changes in cover.

The economic benefits of this work have been good too, with the project creating employment, business and training opportunities during the rehabilitation process.

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