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Time to Tech Up



Since his appointment as Chief Executive Officer of COAL21 late last year, Mark McCallum has sought to raise the profile of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) in Australia and around the world.

@ The Coalface is a big supporter of technologies that can not only improve our industry, but also improve the environment and that’s exactly what CCUS technologies have the potential to do.

“CCUS technologies offer an important opportunity to achieve deep carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reductions in key industrial processes and in the use of fossil fuels in the power sector,” Mr McCallum told @ The Coalface.

“CCUS can also enable new clean energy pathways, including low-carbon hydrogen production and in addition, provide the foundation for carbon removal or ‘negative emissions’ when the CO2comes from bio-based processes or directly from the atmosphere,” he added.

Yet despite the unarguable benefits of CCUS, the world, and in particular us here in Australia, are still lagging in making significant investments in CCUS.

The International Energy Agency warns that even if wind and solar PV deployment could be accelerated, other low-carbon technologies like nuclear power and CCUS also need to be expanded at massive scale to decarbonise the power sector.

The average efficiently of coal-fired power plants around the world is about 33%. But China, with half of the world’s coal power, has an average fleet efficiency close to 40%. The rest of the world needs to follow China’s strong commitment to addressing environmental issues. 

“If the rest of the world’s coal fleet efficiency averaged 40% as well, we’d reduce CO2(carbon dioxide) emissions by 2 giga tonnes each year. This is almost 4 times Australia’s current emissions,” said Mr McCallum. 

Modern technology exists to do this. And we can do even better as plants with efficiencies of up to 47% operate around the world with further improvements anticipated.

HELE technology is already cost-competitive with other low emissions technologies as coal and gas technologies are the lowest cost per unit of electricity to build and operate. 

Very deep cuts in CO2emissions can be achieved through the additional use of proven CO2capture and geostorage technologies and biomass co-combustion.

But more can be done. 

“This pathway – HELE with CCUS – opens up the prospect of achieving very deep cuts in emissions into the future. It also underlines the COAL21’s key message: CCUS must play a greater role in the future in order to achieve climate change goals at least cost,” he added.

Today at Boundary Dam in Canada and Petra Nova in the US there are commercially operating coal power stations capturing and storing carbon emissions with CCUS units.  These two power stations alone are capturing the equivalent of carbon emissions from almost 500,000 cars every year.  With bold policy imagination our three largest states in concert with the Federal Government could do that here. 

Australia needs to support the commercial viability of low emissions technologies worldwide. In doing so we could contribute to global development of safe and reliable CCUS while promoting a practical and effective means of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And at the same time, we would continue to derive economic benefit from developing our vast energy resources in today’s carbon-constrained world. What are we waiting for?


Good. Better. Best.



Hitachi’s range of mining excavators is a dominant force in Australia. With six machines in their mining line up, they have a solution for every size and type of mine, from the versatile 120t EX1200-7 excavator through to their EX8000-6 weighing in at a whopping 837t.

Available in backhoe and face shovel configurations, these machines are highly regarded and operate globally. Instantly recognisable in their distinctive Hitachi orange, you’re most likely to find the EX2600, EX3600 and EX5600 backhoes working in the Valley.

Sitting in the sweet spot of Hitachi’s diggers is the EX3600. A stalwart of the Australian mining industry, Hitachi has deployed locally over 100 of these 370t excavators since launching the EX3600-5. Now in its third iteration, the Japanese manufactured EX3600-7 is Hitachi’s latest generation machine built upon industry feedback and the Company’s learnings in the field to produce more fuel efficient product for customers.

In a development immediately broadening the appeal of this excavator, miners now have an option of power plant with both the Cummins QSKTA60 or MTU 12V4000 on offer.

Combined with improvements in the machine’s hydraulic system, operators can reasonably expect reductions in fuel consumption between 4 – 7% compared with the previous model (the EX3600-6 with Cummins engine configuration). Further, intelligent management systems including main pump electric regulators on each individually controlled hydraulic pump as well as, a hydraulic regeneration circuit, permit this machine reduced pump demand, enhancing engine power, lowering fuel consumption and increasing productivity.

All too aware of the detrimental effects of dust and moisture ingress, Hitachi has introduced slit-less solid conduit harnesses and junction boxes. In the instance of damage, electrical harnesses between junction boxes can be replaced individually, ultimately reducing maintenance time and cost. Likewise, the cab riser now features a pressuriser system to minimise dust infiltration and extend the service life of electronic components within.

Improving upon a product that customers already like, the hydraulic hoses between the boom and main piping have been rearranged from an arch to underslung configuration removing the need for clamps, reducing deflection and increasing reliability. And I could go on, with features too numerous to contemplate in this article.

Find out more today by contacting your local Hitachi representative or go online at


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NSW Leads Nation with New Facility



Australia’s only independent underground mine explosives testing facility has opened at Freeman’s Waterhole NSW.

Paving the way for improvements in mine safety and innovation in the mining industry, the new testing facility is under the control of the NSW Resources Regulator’s Mine Safety Technology Centre (RR).

The facility, which is discreetly built on the site of a quarry to reduce impact on the surrounding environment, will be used to determine if locally made explosives are viable and meet vital safety requirements to protect the wellbeing of workers.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro recently launched the first round of explosives testing at the new facility and stated that it positions NSW as the nation’s leader in mine safety development.

“Currently, there are few explosives that can be used in underground coal mines and these kinds of explosives have a very short shelf life, they don’t travel well and need to be developed and tested locally,” Mr Barilaro said.

The RR is responsible for regulating the mining industry in NSW, which includes work, health safety matters through to environmental issues such as mine rehabilitation.

Anthony Keon, Executive Director of the Resources Regulator said the new testing facility is critical to ensure that people can have confidence in the materials and explosives being used underground. “The establishment of this facility will ensure that we’re not stifling innovation,” said Anthony.

“It will give industry and explosive manufacturers access to this test which has previously been unavailable for almost decades.

“There are limited facilities of this type throughout the world and because of the limited shelf life on these products we really need something locally based in order to open up those opportunities for NSW companies and for the NSW mining industry.”

“What the test is trying to do is ensure that explosives when used properly don’t ignite methane; and we’ve seen through numerous incidents throughout the world and even recently in Queensland the ramifications of when there isn’t an ignition of methane.”

Geoff Slater, Manager at Mine Safety Technology Centre said the development of explosives specifically for underground coal mines started back in the1890s at the Greenwich Naval Facility London. Early tests used a small bore cannon and this influenced majority of test facilities since that time.

“The facility at Freemans Waterhole uses concrete culverts and water bags to reduce the noise emissions during testing,” said Geoff.

“Extensive computer simulations were used to determine the best optimum use of the water.”

Test rounds at the facility will be scheduled to meet the needs of industry, at up to two to three times per year, restricted to work hours on weekdays.

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Students Have A Yarn



St James’ Muswellbrook welcomes a newly constructed yarning circle thanks to the generosity of Malabar Resources.

Fully funded by Malabar, the Yarning Circle will give students and teachers at St James’ Primary School in Muswellbrook the opportunity to sit together and enhance their understanding of Indigenous culture.

A Yarning Circle is an important part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and a harmonious and collaborative way of communicating. It promotes respectful relationships and provides an open environment to share cultural knowledge.

In August Malabar designed and installed the Yarning Circle which involved the placement of more than 5000kg of sandstone blocks.

Malabar’s Manager of Health, Safety, Environment and Community, Donna McLaughlin said, “We are delighted to continue building our relationship with St James’ and other schools in the region by providing resources that help their specific needs.”

“We look forward to seeing the Yarning Circle develop as native plants and artwork are added to the space, which will further facilitate cultural learning and understanding.”

The new space was enthusiastically received by students. “Thank you for this amazing and respectful area where we can teach others about our customs and traditions,” said year 6 student Tushawn.

St James’ Aboriginal Education Teacher, Tania Thompson expressed how thankful they are to have a designated place for our CREST Crew to meet and yarn.

“When we meet as a whole group from K-6 around the Yarning Circle, it gives students the opportunity to bond, form strong ties, and unite as one mob,” she said.

“Communicating, sharing and problem solving as a team are some of the extremely important life skills that we refine when meeting for Yarning Circle.”

“We learn to listen to one another and to respect the ideas and opinions of others regardless of their age, as we all have wisdom to share.”

St James’ will use the Yarning Circle as an extension of their classrooms and teaching practice to foster knowledge of Indigenous culture by engaging both indigenous and non-indigenous students and teachers.

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