New Acland scoops national award for rehabilitation

12 August 2016

New Hope Group’s unique approach to achieving a sustainable, economically productive and environmentally healthy post mine landscape has been recognised nationally overnight by being awarded the 2016 ABA100 Winner of the Australian Business Award for Sustainability.

The award, which recognises organisations that execute initiatives demonstrating leadership and commitment to sustainable business practices, was a result of New Hope’s submission outlining how it integrates a unique combination of three activities into daily coal mining operations at its New Acland mine.

Those activities being;

  • Scientific cattle grazing trials on rehabilitated mined land
  • Environmental conservation, protection and improvement works  to revegetate buffer zones along local waterways to create koala habitat and wildlife corridors, and
  • The use of recycled water for mining activities

Managing Director of New Hope Group, Shane Stephan, said being awarded the ABA100 Winner for Sustainability in The Australia Business Awards 2016 is testament to the company’s commitment to sustainability.

“It has always been the company’s vision for the land at its New Acland mine to ultimately be returned to a sustainable, profitable agricultural enterprise.

“Not just at the end of mine life, but as mining operations progress. 

“It’s not just the right thing to do environmentally but it also makes good business sense to return the land as quickly as possible to an environmentally sound, sustainable and profitable enterprise.

“This award demonstrates industry best practice rehabilitation is being achieved at New Acland. 

“It also clearly demonstrates the compatibility of mining and agriculture”. Mr Stephan said.

This win automatically qualifies New Hope Group’s submission to participate in the international chapter of the program at the World Business Awards. 

Background

The New Hope Group is a majority Australian owned and operated diversified energy company which has been based in South East Queensland for more than 60 years.

With business interests and operations spanning coal mining, exploration, port operation, oil production, agriculture, innovative technologies and investment, New Hope is ranked   in the top 150 largest ASX listed companies by market capitalisation, and is among the top 15 listed companies based in Queensland. 

Our continued growth is founded on a long-term commitment to our employees and disciplined management, alongside a proactive approach to the environment, community and social responsibility.

The New Acland mine, owned and managed by the New Hope Group, has played a key role in the Darling Downs region as an employer and economic contributor since it began operation in October 2002.

The mine currently produces around 5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of export thermal coal. In doing so, the mine contributes about $300 million annually into south-east Queensland’s economy and $110 million each year specifically to the Darling Downs.

The operation provides direct jobs for around 275 locals, 507 contractors, and contributes to 2300 more indirect jobs.  

Rehabilitation and scientific cattle grazing trials

New Hope is committed to the rehabilitation of disturbed land across its operations.  At New Acland this rehabilitation is progressive and occurs right behind the mining activities.  Because of this the footprint of each mine pit at New Acland is (has been) no greater than 170 hectares (approx.) at any one time.

The company’s pastoral arm, Acland Pastoral Company (APC) was established 2006, as a farming, grazing and land management enterprise based at the New Acland mine.

APC has landholdings of approximately 10,000 hectares on and around its mining lease, runs approximately 2,400 head of cattle and conducts various cropping projects on that land.  It is an active member of Agforce.

APC operates a centre pivot irrigator for its crops which uses some of the 3,000 mega litres of recycled water allocated to New Acland from the Toowoomba Wetalla reclamation plant for our mining operations.

APC is currently in its fourth year of scientific grazing trials looking at livestock production performance on rehabilitated.

The trials include livestock, pasture and soil monitoring and focus on measuring the productivity, economic viability and sustainability of beef production on previously mined land.   

This industry leading work is conducted in partnership with independent agricultural consultants Outcross Agri-Services, the University of Southern Queensland’s National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture (USQ), pasture specialists EcoRich Grazing and supported by expert veterinarian and statistician advice.  

Results to date have shown that, on average, performance from cattle grazing the rehabilitated pastures  was comparable or exceeded the performance of the control (unmined) site with an average gain of 0.7kg/day and producing 103kg beef/ha.

New Hope believes its progressive rehabilitation conversion to grazing land is industry leading and sets an industry benchmark.

Biodiversity and environmental protection work

The  land rehabilitation to  grazing activities are carried out together  with New Acland coal mine environmental conservation, protection and improvement works, which help to revegetate buffer zones along local waterways to create koala habitat and wildlife corridors.  To date New Hope has planted over 13,000 trees across these areas.

Recycled Water  

New Acland mine, currently and in the future, uses recycled water taken from Toowoomba’s Wetalla Waste Water Treatment facility for its operations. This water is delivered to site via the 47 klm pipeline NHG constructed in 2009.  The only ground water used on site is for ablution purposes.

The unique combination of these three activities, which are an integral part of daily coal mining operations,  results in a post-mining landscape that restores the land to as good as or better condition than pre-mining for grazing activities, and strengthens and protects the environmental values of undisturbed areas. It also clearly demonstrates the compatibility of mining and agriculture practices.