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Fighting dust helps coal mines

In an effort to reduce the amount of dust created by the mines, two Rio Tinto Coal mines are releasing seeds over their operations. The Coal & Allied mines have airdropped more than 25 tonnes of seed. The seed, a mix of grasses and legumes, are going to provide much needed plant cover that will keep overburden and spoil together and cut the amount of dust created by uncovered soil. The Mount Thorley Warkworth mine received 12 tonnes while the Hunter Valley mine got about 15 tonnes last month. The news of the seed spread comes days after it was made public that the Mt Thorley Warkworth has been charged for issues resulting from dust problems. Prosecution by the Land and Environment Court has already begun in the case against the mine.

The NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure claims the mine was not in compliance with a variety of regulations meant to minimize dust as of last September. The air quality in the Hunter Valley area was under the influence of dry windy conditions at the time. The Mt Thorley Warkworth mine took action and implemented a number of measures to minimise dust including the increased use of water spraying and shutting down equipment. The mine has added other measures since the first incident. They now employ dust alarms around the coal hoppers and use noise attenuation of its mining fleet.

They have also upgraded the water fleet. All of these steps are meant to enhance noise and dust management. Other mines are also looking to implement greener alternatives to managing the dust problem. For example, Glencore Xstrata’s underground Bulga mine ironed out an arrangement with the Atulya Olive Grove. While the miners work at their jobs producing coal underground, olive grower Andrew Waite is busy producing olives above the mine. This is the perfect representation of how the mining industry and the farming industry could work together, according to Glencore Xstrata’s environment and community manager, Ralph Northey. Northey works at the Bulga Coal Complex.


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