The NSW Resources Regulator has released a case study of successful rehabilitation at a former open cut coal mine.
Development consent (DA 90/0242) was granted to Westside Mine in 1990 for open cut mining in the northern and southern portions of the mine lease area, with mining starting in 1992. Mining was by truck and shovel method, with sequential mining of narrow strips followed by backfilling of mined strips and rehabilitation on a continuous basis.
Mining operations ended in 2012, and the site has been undergoing progressive rehabilitation since that time.
Rehabilitation Sign off
The domain associated with the former mining operations and where rehabilitation has been completed comprises about 38 hectares of the north pit area at the former Westside Mine. It comprises ‘Domain 2 – North Rehab Area’ in the approved Mining operations plan: closure of the OCAL complex. In 1998, operations ceased within Domain 2.
The required rehabilitation outcomes for the former mine are detailed in the approved mining operations plan (MOP). The approved final land use for Domain 2 consists of bushland with some retained access tracks and small dams, which is consistent with the surrounding bushland.
The site has been progressively rehabilitated in accordance with the obligations set out in the approved MOP. Labels to the right show the year each area was seeded as part of the rehabilitation process.
The MOP requires the title holder to achieve the approved rehabilitation objectives, rehabilitation completion criteria and final landform. This includes the following key obligations:
- reducing the visual impact on surrounding residences
- establishing native trees and shrubs
- returning the land back to bushland similar to the pre-mining environment
- providing and maintaining efficient means to prevent contamination, pollution, erosion or siltation of any stream, watercourse or catchment area or any undue interference to fish or their environment
- establishing a safe, stable and non-polluting landform.
Coal Mine Rehabilitation progress
The progress of rehabilitation has been in accordance with the measures outlined in the approved MOP. Since the completion of mining, Domain 2 has been reshaped and seeded, including the mining void in the western part of the domain.
The rehabilitation is between 16 to 26 years old and has been the subject of ongoing monitoring and maintenance in accordance with the requirements of the approved MOP. This has included annual reporting to the Regulator and site inspections to assess the progress of rehabilitation performance.
General observations have included:
- the final landform is safe, stable, non-polluting and complements adjacent landforms
- the ecosystem is sustainable and requires minimal maintenance consistent with the approved final land use
- the species present were generally those found locally
- evidence of natural regeneration and recruitment from native trees and vegetation established as part of the rehabilitation
- no significant weed infestations, with levels similar to those surrounding untouched bushland areas
- evidence of functioning soil nutrient/biological processes through the development of soil profiles.
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