World-first research to preserve endangered orchids at mine site
February 27, 2013

When Glencore Xstrata discovered threatened orchid species at its Mangoola mine site north of Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley, the company didn’t just move the plants to a temporary site during mining. In addition to engaging specialist botanists to safely relocate the plants, Glencore Xstrata asked researchers from the University of Newcastle to conduct a detailed study into the terrestrial orchids to help to preserve them into the future.

It’s the first time these orchids – the Diuris tricolor (Pine Donkey orchid) and Prasophyllum sp. Wybong (Wybong orchid) – have been the subject of such a detailed study, making the research an important addition to the scientific community’s knowledge of these species.  They are unique to NSW: the Pine Donkey orchid is found in western parts of NSW and is considered a threatened species, while there are only seven populations of the Wybong orchid in the state.


PrasophyllumWybong diuristricolor4

The Wybong orchid and Pine Donkey orchid.


A pioneering study being conducted by the University of Newcastle’s Centre for Sustainable Ecosystem Restoration is looking at specific soil and life cycle requirements for these plants, as well as pollination, seed collection, microbial associations and germination. 

And the partnership between the University, specialist botanists and Glencore Xstrata means that not only is the mine able to successfully regenerate the mine site and protect the native species, but their environmental plan will also make a difference to the wider scientific community.

Translocation of the orchids has been taking place at the Mangoola mine site since 2010, and since then, over 1300 plants have been successfully relocated, with some specimens already flowering. These are encouraging results for the first part of the project, which will continue throughout the duration of the mine’s 20 year life. 

It's just one example of collaboration between scientific and environmental researchers and Glencore Xstrata that's increasing scientific knowledge of the region’s environment, consistent with the award-winning rehabilitation at Glencore Xstrata’s Mt Owen Mine, and the teamwork that created an industry-first guideline for establishing native vegetation

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