Mining raises safety concerns for road users

BHP Billiton Illawarra Coal has rejected claims that its longwall mining is endangering the safety of those using the Hume Highway or the main Southern Railway, south-west of Sydney.

The company is mining two longwall blocks that run underneath the Hume Highway and the main railway line between Sydney and Melbourne. It has approval to mine another two.

A recent media report suggested subsidence caused by the mining could damage the infrastructure, putting lives at risk.

John Brannon, general manager of sustainable development at Illawarra Coal, said management plans have been put in place to ensure any change in the land does not damage nearby infrastructure.

“It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see a metre of subsidence occur across a wide area of land but I make the point that you won’t see subsidence of a stepping nature on the road or the railway,” he said.

“You’ll see a general subsidence of the land across a broad area.”

According to Brannon, BHP is working closely with the Roads and Traffic Authority to minimise any impacts.

“We’ve undermined roads and had subsidence along the Appin Road in the past, we’ve undermined and mined near the gas pipelines,” he said.

“All of those pieces of infrastructure have been subject to subsidence and we’ve been able to mine there with careful management plans and with no undue impact to those pieces of infrastructure.”

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