New Hope believes that mining and agriculture can exist together and are demonstrating this at New Acland where mine buffer zones are farmed and rehabilitated mine areas are returned to grazing.
Acland Pastoral Company (APC), established in 2006, is a farming, grazing and land management enterprise based at New Acland. The company oversees 10,000 hectares of land, including grazing 2,000 head of cattle, and manages 2,400 hectares of crops, which are primarily sold in the Darling Downs region. The business continues to investigate new crop types.
The company manages the progressive rehabilitation program that forms a central aspect to the sustainability plan for New Acland. At any one time, only 10% of lease area is actively mined. More than 300 hectares of land have been rehabilitated and returned to cattle grazing land. This ensures that mined land converts back to productive agricultural uses as well as conservation areas. As a member of AgForce Queensland, the peak organisation representing Queensland’s rural producers, APC is committed to best practice agricultural and land management operations.
Cattle grazing trials
Through APC, two exciting initiatives are in progress. The first is a scientifically-controlled cattle grazing trial monitored in conjunction with leading independent livestock consultants and a local university. The trial involves grazing two mobs of cattle – one on rehabilitated mining land at New Acland and one on a non-mined paddock comparable in feed quantity and quality. Stage 1 results indicate that rehabilitated mining land has the potential to be as, or more, productive than non-mined land.
While it is early days for the trial, it offers positive potential for the mining industry more broadly. Further third party supervised trials are scheduled for 2014; in order to verify the viability of rehabilitated land and optimise rehabilitation practice.The second initiative is with Greening Australia. This is focused on local tree species planting to revegetate the area with native and local species. It includes areas set aside for protected species relocation.
Through APC, contributing to Queensland’s agricultural sector is an important and long-term part of New Hope’s operations. It shares the same ethos as New Hope in emphasising local employment and use of local services and contractors to maximise the benefits for the region.