Glencore’s Liddell Coal Complex has mined its last coal after an incredible 100 years of operation. The milestone marks the beginning of a new era for the site as focus shifts to mine closure and rehabilitation works.
Coal exploration began at Liddell in 1923, though it wasn’t until 1930 that mining began. The site had a mixture of underground and open cut pits during its tenure, and underground production ceased in 1995.
The site continued with its open cut operation and in 2022 managed the production of more than 3.4 million tonnes of saleable coal.
Operations Manager, Tony Morris, said the operation had played an important role in the Hunter’s mining industry.
“For 100 years, Liddell has been a cornerstone of the Hunter’s mining industry, contributing to the local economy, investing in community development and providing ample employment opportunities for multiple generations,” Tony said.
“As we move into mine closure, we are committed to leaving behind a positive legacy that extends beyond the mining operation.”
Rehabilitation at Liddell has been an ongoing process with closure works being done alongside operations.
In 2022, almost $4.5 million was spent on rehabilitation, including seeding of more than 73ha of land for native woodland and pasture. A large part of the recent rehabilitation spend has been on capping a former tailing storage facility including the 33ha emplacement area known as Antiene TSF. These works will assist in returning the land to its post-mining use sooner.
A proactive approach to rehabilitation comes as no surprise, as Liddell has always worked to protect the health and sustainability of its land and its neighbours, actively supporting local regeneration and other environmental enhancement projects.
In 2012, Liddell commenced cattle grazing trials on rehabilitated mine land to determine whether rehabilitated pastures can successfully sustain cattle grazing to the same extent as un-mined land. By monitoring the livestock, soil and vegetation over the study they helped to establish guidelines on ways to create and maintain rehabilitation areas and to prove cattle grazing is a suitable rehabilitation option.
Over three separate trials they proved that not only did cattle on rehabilitated land grow quicker, but they also had a greater fat coverage allowing for better returns at sale.
Around 80 head cattle currently graze on land that Liddell has rehabilitated for pasture and mine staff are eagerly awaiting the birth of the first Liddell calves in the Spring.
In addition to providing significant environmental benefits, the projects Liddell has supported provide benefits to the wider community in the form of employment, skills training, improved amenity and recreational opportunities.
Liddell has always been a proud member of the local community. Over the years they have supported countless community organisations, through donations, sponsorships, to in-kind assistance for a range of environmental, community development and educational activities.
Hunter Valley Fly Fishing Club, Upper Hunter Conservatorium of Music, Mark Hughes Foundation, Little Wind, Muswellbrook Community Garden and the Hunter Sustainability Landcare Group are just a few of the organisations that they have made a positive impact on over the years.
When coal was first mined at Liddell back in 1923, it was a different era. The industry had not yet been mechanised and electricity was basic. The job was tough, dirty and dangerous. Not even work boots were compulsory on mine sites in those days. We’ve seen great advancements and positive changes to safety and training since then.
But one thing has never changed over Liddell’s 100 years of operation. It’s recognition that people are the foundation of its operation. Liddell Mine Manager, Mark Faulkner, acknowledged the dedication and achievements of the workforce.
“The hard work, dedication, and commitment of our workforce have been integral to Liddell’s success,” Mark said.
“We are immensely proud of our people, and we’d like to extend our thanks to everyone who has been part of Liddell’s journey.”