May 6th, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 18
Muswellbrook, New South Wales, Australia; a town near a coal mine
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
"Muswellbrook" by Cymruman - uploaded by en:User:Cymruman (talk contribs) in July 2007.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Muswellbrook, New South Wales, Australia
Pass Herald Reporter
Riversdale Resources executives were touting the Bengalla Mine in New South Wales, Australia as a successful example of a coal mine built near a community as they presented rail load out options for the Grassy Mountain Coal Project at an open house on April 22.
Riversdale’s managing director Steve Mallyon said the Bengala Mine load out is about 1.5 kilometres from Muswellbrook, a town of about 11,000 that is well known for coal mining and horse breeding.
Google Maps shows that its rail load out facility is built on the far side of the mine, away from Muswellbrook.
Bengalla is one of eight massive coal mines that surround the town. It is an open cut mine that went into production in 1998. It employs about 400 full-time employees and produces about 8 million tonnes of thermal coal per year.
This March, the New South Wales government and its federal counterpart approved its expansion to 15 million tonnes of coal per year.
For ten days in February, Riversdale Resources’ vice president of technical services David Leslie visited three different Australian mines, including Bengalla, to study their load out facilities. Leslie said Riversdale would be factoring in the Australian designs for the Grassy Mountain mine to mitigate noise, coal dust and unsightliness.
To control coal dust, all the Australian mines use grates below the loading area so coal can be collected before it ends up on the tracks where it can dry out and start blowing around, he said.
“We think we can be successful in making sure that dust is minimized greatly,” said Leslie.
To minimize the visual impact, the load out facility would be built as compact as possible and painted colours that blend into the surroundings. The Australian load outs are concealed by berms and planted trees. Tunnels on either side of the load out structure are be used for sound mitigation.
Leslie did not say which of these strategies could be used for Grassy Mountain.
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“As we pin the load out position, we can do noise modeling and see if there are any locations that may be impacted and then we can look at them specifically,” he said.
Tom Meakin, a founding member of Sedgman, the company that built the Bengalla Mine load out structure, said Grassy Mountain would use unconventional processes that would reduce the amount of dust.
“What we’re doing here and what’s different is we’re not drying the coal,” he said. “Our tailings are all contained on the site. We use tailings filter presses to dewater the tailings into filter cake and then its combined with the coarse filter reject and taken back into the site.”
Mallyon added that Sedgman has improved the design of its load out structures in the 17 years since Bengalla’s was commissioned.
“We felt it important to deliver a live case study given the location of the rail loader is a significant issue with the community,” said Mallyon.

Proposed rail load outs revised
Riversdale has whittled down its proposed load out options for the Grassy Mountain project from three to two.
The two options are a figure eight near the Crowsnest Pass Golf and Country Club and a siding through the valley bottom between Coleman and Blairmore. Barring technical problems, the trains would take about seven hours to load.
Public reaction to the load out options was mixed.
Speaking at Wednesday’s open house, local resident Doug Manzer asked whether the proposed load out options were the best options or just the cheapest.
“You’re trying to build one of the lowest cost producers in the world,” said Manzer. “To me that is a tradeoff for some of the things I would rather see go into an operation like this.”
Mallyon replied that the company had been considering a total of ten load out options but Riversdale but settled on these two for a number of environmental and social factors.
“It’s not just the cost,” he said, “These alternatives have huge advantages over the other eight.”
One of the discarded options placed the load out structure near the Frank Industrial Park. Mallyon said that option was cost prohibitive because it would mean putting a conveyor belt around Bluff Mountain.
Another option had a rail spur going straight from the main line to the mine site. However, that option does not take into account the mountainous topography of the area.
In a report on global coal producers, Anthony Martin, Riversdale’s chief financial officer, said the long-term forecast for metallurgical coal is around $150 US per tonne.
About 25 per cent of global producers are not making any money at its current price of around $100 US per tonne.
“Everyone is making less money in the industry than they were a few years ago,” said Martin. “We need to make sure we’re one of the lowest cost producers of our product.”
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They’re bringing jobs
Martin also presented data from a social impact assessment on the impact the Grassy Mountain project will have on the Crowsnest Pass.
Building the mine is expected to take two to three years. A thousand people would be hired for the job. Martin envisions a camp style arrangement to accommodate the influx of workers.
The mine would create about 400 fulltime jobs, the majority of which will be taken up by 25 to 40 year olds. About 50 per cent are expected to live in the Pass. They are expected to spend from $40 to $50 million per year.
“It will lead to a lot of new younger families coming in and settling in the community, which from our point of view is a big positive,” said Martin.
It will cost $220 million per year to operate the mine. Employee related taxes are expected to total $9.6 million per year. Contractors are expected to generate additional tax revenue for the municipality.
The mine is expected to have substantial indirect affects on the community by generating the need for support industries and contractors.

Mining company, golf course, tee off over holes
Hatch Mott MacDonald rail consultant James Whithers said the valley bottom option would involve an overland conveyor belt that would feed coal to the load out structure from the mine site. The conveyor belt would run parallel to the rail corridor and then underneath the highway. This option would not affect the golf course.
The second option would cost the golf course nine of its 18 holes and possibly the clubhouse. Mallyon said they’ve been in talks with Crowsnest Pass Golf and Country Club and have plans to replace the lost holes.
“Our plan would be to replace those holes with additional new ones and a redevelopment of the golf course and clubhouse,” said Mallyon.
Crowsnest Pass Golf and Country Club Board member Rick Breakenridge said his organization been in negotiations with Riversdale for over a year.
“It’s a big change for our golf course and for our community,” said Breakenridge. “However that change is being managed. Riversdale approached us a year ago. We’ve been working with them ever since. At this point we formed a structure to work with them in the future about maintaining course operation… We don’t know what option we’re going forward with yet but working with Riversdale to date has been very positive.”
May 6th ~ Vol. 85 No. 18
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