Hunter residents tally mining’s impact

Over 2500 coal mine blasts have been recorded in the Upper Hunter region last year.

The tally was conducted by Camberwell resident Deidre Olofsson using figures contained in environment management reports from 15 open-cut mines, the Newcastle Herald reports.

Olofsson said she did her own analysis because no government department could provide the information.

A number of residents are now calling on the government to introduce regulations limiting mining’s impact on the region.

Bulga-Milbrodale Progress Association spokesperson John Krey said local communities were tired of mining companies and government departments skimming over the effects of blasting, such as noise and dust. 

‘‘It’s not the average figures we are worried about but the peaks,’’ Krey said.

But a Department of Planning spokesman refuted the claims saying the cumulative impacts of blasting were taken into consideration when individual mining operations were assessed.

About 200 community representatives will meet this weekend in Kurri Kurri to discuss mining’s impacts and demand increased protection.

Last month the Department of Planning and Infrastructure finalised a strategy to deal with blast fumes.

The Blast Fume Management Strategy (BFMS) for every open-cut mine seems to have decreased blast fume impacts. There were nine blast-related complaints for the first nine months of this financial year, compared to 20 complaints in 2011-12.

This is a 40 per cent reduction.

Dust and mining’s impact has long been a concern for Hunter residents, many of whom live in the vicinity of open cut mines.

Australian Mining recently reported that the NSW Environment Minister Robyn Parker introduced new dust Pollution Reduction Programs for the Hunter Valley.

Mining operations are using research funded by the Australian Coal Association Research Program and conducting trials at a range of sites to look for better ways to manage dust on haul roads and from overburden.

NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said the dust Pollution Reduction Programs represent an important partnership between the mining industry and the NSW Government to tackle the issue of air quality.

“NSW Mining has been very active in monitoring and mitigating potential dust pollution from mining operations. The industry is pleased to stand by the NSW Government in its efforts to address this challenge,” he said.

Galilee added the industry has been working with the Environment Protection Authority as part of their Dust Stop Program, which started at the end of 2010.

“Last year all coal mining operations in NSW completed best practice reviews of their sites to determine where there is still room for improvement of dust management techniques,” he said.

Mine sites typically manage dust emission through a combination of mine planning, reducing disturbed areas, minimising road haul distances and traffic, use of enclosed conveyors and carrying out continuous rehabilitation.

They also use techniques like water sprays on stockpiles and dust watering carts on unpaved roads. Extensive monitoring programs at every mining operation measure adherence to air quality standards and recognises areas for improvements in dust management.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.