Nine coal mines have been placed on legally binding dust reduction programs.
These mines include BHP’s Mount Arthur mine, Xstrata’s Liddell and Bengalla mines, and the Stratford and Tasman mines, The Herald reports.
Minister for the environment Robyn Parker yesterday told NSW state parliament the legally binding “dust stop” program will expand to include all 68 mines operating in NSW by April 2012.
The program evolved from an independent report last year comparing NSW mines to global best practices.
The report stated that increased dust particulate control measures would reduce emissions by 49%.
According to the report, unsealed dirt roads account for nearly half of dust emissions.
While Parker said many coal mines had already reduced emissions, “there is still room for improvement”.
The programs are negotiated with mines, and are part of their environmental protection licences.
The first nine mines were chosen for their “geographical and operational diversity,” according to the Herald.
NSW Minerals Council deputy chief Sue-Ern Tan stated that the mining industry acknowledges the importance of dust management, and is continually researching ways to manage dust emissions on site.
However, calling the program “’dust stop’ sets expectations that are unachievable,” Tan said.
According to National Pollutant Inventory figures, almost half of NSW’s fine dust emissions are produced in Singleton and Muswellbrook.
The Hunter already has a series of air monitoring stations to observe air quality.
The Upper Hunter Air Quality network’s Muswellbrook monitor issued an alert after readings of 2.5 particulate matter earlier this month.
This comes after a number of similar alerts last month for concentrations that exceeded size ten.
However, the Department of Environment blamed wood heater smoke, rather than mining operations, for high readings.
The monitoring network is currently made up of fourteen air quality stations, with the Department of Environment saying that it may consider additional monitors.