ACARP ACARP ACARP ACARP
Mining and the Community

Assessing the Cumulative Impacts of Mining on Regional Communities: An Exploratory Study of Coal Mining in the Muswellbrook Area of NSW

Mining and the Community » Mining and the Community

Published: December 08Project Number: C14047

Get ReportAuthor: David Brereton, Chris Moran, Gillian McIlwain, James McIntosh, Kailee Parkinson | Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry, University of Queensland

ACARP levy contributors should order this report in the normal manner – by clicking “get report”.  As this report is available free of charge to everyone, all others please contact nicole@acarp.com.au

The Australian mining industry, and the coal mining sector in particular, is required to operate in an increasingly challenging environment of changing community expectations, stricter regulatory controls and greater public scrutiny. In the case of coal, the heightened prominence of climate change has added a further layer of complexity.

Companies have responded to this changing external environment by strengthening their internal management systems, investing more resources in engagement with communities and other external stakeholders, and developing mechanisms for regularly reporting on their social and environmental performance. For the most part, the focus of companies has been on managing the performance of their own operations, but cross-company collaboration is also becoming more common. This is occurring not only at the national level, through industry associations such as the Minerals Council of Australia and the Australian Coal Association, but, increasingly, also at the regional level; particularly in areas such as the Upper Hunter Valley, Bowen Basin and Pilbara, where there is a concentration of mining activity.

This project, which is an example of cross-company collaboration, focuses on the challenges involved in dealing with cumulative, or multi-mine, impacts at the local level. The project builds on an earlier Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP)-funded project conducted in 2004, undertaken by the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM) that aimed to enhance the capacity of individual mines to monitor and manage their impacts on local communities (Brereton and Moffatt 2005).

Key objectives of the study were to:

1. Develop a framework for assessing, monitoring and reporting the cumulative social, environmental and economic impacts - both positive and negative - of coal mining on regional areas where multiple mines operated.

2. Undertake a trial of the framework in an area where there were multiple mines.

3. Identify methods and indicators that can be applied to other regions of Australia where multi-site impacts are a salient issue.

The location for the study was Muswellbrook, a town of approximately 10,200 people in the Upper Hunter Valley of New South Wales (ABS 2006). At the time the study was conducted there were five developed coal mines - four open cut (Mt Arthur Coal, Drayton, Bengalla and Muswellbrook Coal) and one underground (Dartbrook) - located on the perimeter of the town. Dartbrook has since been placed on a care and maintenance schedule, but the overall level of mining activity remains high, with major new mines scheduled to be opened in the next few years. Muswellbrook was also the location for the earlier study undertaken by CSRM.

BHP Billiton's Mt Arthur Coal operation, which is the largest operation in the area, took a lead role in the project. The study also had the active support of Anglo Coal (which operates Drayton and Dartbrook mines), Bengalla Mining Company and Muswellbrook Coal. The Project Steering Committee included representatives from each of these operations, plus from approved developments yet to commence mining, including the Coal and Allied owned Mt Pleasant mine.

The above-mentioned operations already cooperate with each other in a range of ways; sometimes on a bi-lateral basis (for example, the water sharing arrangement between Mt Arthur Coal and Drayton Coal) and sometimes multilaterally (for example, the Muswellbrook Mine Managers Forum, regular meetings of environmental officers, the Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme, the joint River Care program supported by Bengalla, Mt Arthur Coal and Coal and Allied, and the annual Mining and Energy EXPO). Support for this research project was an extension of this cooperative approach and was driven by the desire of participating companies to increase their understanding of cumulative impacts and, longer term, to enhance their capacity to manage these impacts.

Underground

Health and safety, productivity and environment initiatives.

Underground

Open Cut

Safety, productivity and the right to operate are priorities for open cut mine research.

Recently Completed Projects

C19024Establishing Ecologically Sustainable Mine Water Release Criteria In Seasonally Flowing Streams

Extreme rainfall conditions in the Fitzroy Catchment over an approxi...

C25030Coal Mine Open Pit Final Void Closure And Relinquishment - Addressing Uncertainty In Coal Mine Environmental Planning

This report addresses uncertainties faced by coal mine operators whe...

C27046Estimation Of True Deformation Vector From Slope Radar Monitoring

Slope deformation radar monitors are now widely used in open cut coa...

Open Cut

Coal Preparation

Maximising throughput and yield while minimising costs and emissions.

Recently Completed Projects

C27004Improving Coal Flotation With Oscillatory Air Supply

This report provides detailed information on coal flotation with os...

C25018Improving Solids Recovery And Moisture Reduction In Ultrafine Coal Dewatering

This report provides detailed information on fine coal dewatering in...

C27028Lab Froth Flotation Testing Guide With Coal Quality

Correct outcomes from laboratory froth flotation testing in coal bor...

Coal Preparation

Technical Market Support

Market acceptance and emphasising the advantages of Australian coals.

Recently Completed Projects

C26039Nanoporosity In Cokes: Their Origin, Control And Influence On CO2 Reactivity

This project using the outcomes of previous project C24060, examine...

C28063A Comprehensive Technical Review Of High-Efficiency Low-Emission (HELE) Pulverised Coal Combustion Technologies For Power Generation

Research and development has been undertaken worldwide to realise co...

C28064Carbon Structure Transformation During Coking Of Australian Coking Coals: Better Understanding The Coke Formation

Carbon structures of coke that are formed during the plastic layer a...

Technical Market Support

Mine Site Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from the production of coal.

Recently Completed Projects

C28076Selective Absorption Of Methane By Ionic Liquids (SAMIL) - Phase 2 Demonstration In A Packed Bed Reactor

An alternative approach to high temperature oxidation of ventilation...

C26004CFD Modelling Of Reverse Thermal Oxidisers For VAM Abatement - CFD Modelling Of Fixed-Bed RTO Devices

The project is part of a larger multi‐phase program of study a...

C27058Technological Assessment Of A Recycle Reactor For VAM Abatement

Underground coal mining emits high volumes of methane, diluted in ve...

Mine Site Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Low Emission Coal Use

Step-change technologies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Recently Completed Projects

C17060BGasification Of Australian Coals

Four Australian coals were trialled in the Siemens 5 MWth pilot scale ga...

C17060AOxyfuel Technology For Carbon Capture And Storage Critical Clean Coal Technology - Interim Support

The status of oxy-fuel technology for first-generation plant is indicate...

C18007Review Of Underground Coal Gasification

This report consists of a broad review of underground coal gasification,...

Low Emission Coal Use

Mining And The Community

The relationship between mines and the local community.

Recently Completed Projects

C16027Assessing Housing And Labour Market Impacts Of Mining Developments In Bowen Basin Communities

The focus of this ACARP-funded project has been to identify a number...

C22029Understanding And Managing Cumulative Impacts Of Coal Mining And Other Land Uses In Regions With Diversified Economies

The coal industry operates in the context of competing land-uses that sh...

C23016Approval And Planning Assessment Of Black Coal Mines In NSW And Qld: A Review Of Economic Assessment Techniques

This reports on issues surrounding economic assessment and analysis ...

Mining And The Community

NERDDC

National Energy Research,Development & Demonstration Council (NERDDC) reports - pre 1992.

Recently Completed Projects

1609-C1609Self Heating of Spoil Piles from Open Cut Coal Mines

Self Heating of Spoil Piles from Open Cut Coal Mines

1301-C1301Stress Control Methods for Optimised Development...

Stress Control Methods for Optimised Development and Extraction Operations

0033-C1356Commissioned Report: Australian Thermal Coals...

Commissioned Report: Australian Thermal Coals - An Industry Handbook

NERDDC