New Oakleigh finishes mining operations

24 January 2013

New Oakleigh, one of the last open cut coal mines in the Ipswich region, will officially finish mining operations tomorrow (Friday 25 January).

Current and former New Oakleigh employees and local stakeholders gathered at the mine near Rosewood today to mark the occasion.

The New Hope Group’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Rob Neale said the ceremony marked the end of a long, proud era.

“This mine has been a long-standing feature of this community and the region for many decades,” he said.

“But the mine has simply run out of coal reserves on this lease area and as a result this operation has now reached the end of its productive life.”

Mr Neale said pick and shovel mining on the Oakleigh site is believed to date back to the early 1900s – and possibly the late 1800s.

The original Oakleigh Colliery company began in 1948 when the Rule family acquired the site.

New Hope bought the mine from then owners Sumitomo Coal in 1999, at a time when the declining export market and Australian dollar further increased pressure on local mining operations.

“Our current and former employees have all worked very hard to make Oakleigh a productive site for many years and they all have fond memories of this place,” Mr Neale said.

“Perhaps a big part of these happy memories come from that fact that Oakleigh has always been home to a very tight-knit group of good people. People who worked together, and often socialised together – and fiercely prided themselves on looking out for each other at all times.

“When the New Hope Group was honoured with the prestigious Ipswich Business of the Year Award last year we immediately thanked our employees for helping us win the accolade, because we know that any company is only as good as its employees.

“So to all our current and former employees – many of whom are here today - I would like to sincerely thank you for all your efforts over the years.

“We hope that this event marking the close of mining operations may give you a sense of pride - and hopefully a sense of closure as well.”

Mr Neale said operations at New Oakleigh would now shift fully to the ongoing rehabilitation of the site.

“Rehabilitation has been ongoing here for a number of years already – and this rehabilitation work will continue for some years to come,” he said.