Planes used in new technique to minimise dust
March 22, 2013

When open cut mining begins, the top layer of soil is removed and stored on site so that it can be returned to the land as part of the rehabilitation process after mining is complete. The rock below the soil, called overburden, is then excavated and relocated to allow access to the coal beneath it. This stored overburden can generate dust when strong winds blow.

 

A number of mines in the Hunter Valley are now using planes to seed overburden from the sky, growing temporary vegetation over these large areas to bind the soil together and reduce the amount of dust that is generated from overburden in dry and windy conditions.

 

BHP Billiton’s Mt Arthur mine near Muswellbrook and Coal & Allied’s Hunter Valley Operations and Mount Thorley Warkworth mines have all conducted these seeding and fertilisation trials, which have proved encouraging. Mt Arthur Coal has been nominated for an industry excellence award for their efforts to reduce dust at the mine.

 

BHPB Mt Arthur - Aerial seeding plane 648 x 427

 

Coal & Allied’s aerial seeding program has covered almost 800 hectares of land or the equivalent of 370 football fields. A local agronomist helped to select a blend of 13 different vegetation species to be grown including ryegrass and inoculated legumes like clovers.

 

Coal & Allied and BHP Billiton’s Mt Arthur Coal aim to conduct more aerial seeding in the future as part of their plans to minimise dust and continue to improve their land management practices.

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