The NSW Department of Planning has cited a number of Hunter Valley coal mines as having an oil containment problem.
In its monthly audit for May, the Department inspected eight coal mines to ensure environmental standards were being upheld, and found “a general need to improve oil containment around workshop buildings,” the report stated.
The report explained that the mines needed to develop their containment system to “prevent oil from entering stormwater management systems” as well as a need to “improve ancillary water management structures”.
It also investigated noise issues with Xstrata’s Mangoola coal mine and Rio Tinto subsidiary Coal & Allied’s Mt Thorley Warkworth coal mine.
According to the Department, it had received a number of noise complaints regarding operations at the Mangoola mine near Wybong, but stated that “in cooler weather, sound can travel more easily and mining noise can be heard over greater distances”.
Residents of Long Point, near the Mt Thorley Warkworth mine, have also reportedly raised issues over increased noise levels following the relocation of mining equipment.
The Department of Planning found that noise monitors currently in place can not accurately determine if the sound levels at the mine comply with development consent.
On the back of this, Coal & Allied hired an independent consultant to install a monitor and record noise levels at both the mine and surrounding location.
The report goes on to say that these monthly monitoring results will be made available on the miner’s website.
Dust has also been a problem at the Rio coal mine, when on 21 May an off duty Department officer saw excessive dust rising from drilling operations at Mt Thorley Warkworth.
The mine was issued with a warning letter.
Strong winds have affected mines right across the Hunter, the report saying that significant dust was observed at many sites.
Due to this “a number of mines voluntarily shut down equipment, wet down disturbed soil, brought in additional water carts and postponed blasting until the weather improved.”
Investigations are ongoing.