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Werris Creek @ The Coalface

Whitehaven Coal’s Werris Creek Mine is entering its next official stage of operation, winding down mining activities and transitioning to full time rehabilitation after 100 years of operation.

The site has long been the quiet achiever of Whitehaven’s open-cut operations, serving as a staple of its Northwest NSW asset portfolio since operations commenced in 2005. The mine has progressed from strength to strength over this period, producing high-quality thermal coal while maintaining its position as Whitehaven’s lowest-cost producer.

Its reliable output has seen the site deliver over 26 million tonnes of coal during Whitehaven’s tenure, keeping hundreds of locals and associated businesses employed and supporting energy security for the company’s customer base across Asia.

With the last coal extracted in April and the final train set to depart the site by the end of June, Werris Creek Operations Manager Murray O’Keefe has praised the high standards set by Whitehaven’s personnel over a near-two decade run.

“The 150-strong workforce at Werris Creek has been integral to our continued success at the site and has reaffirmed why our people remain one of our greatest assets,” he said.

“Having the success of the mine recognised by external bodies – from the recent praise from the NSW Resources Regulator for operational excellence to its nomination for 2022 Mining Operation of the Year by the NSW Minerals Council – is testament to the hard work put in by our team members every single day.”

Werris Creek @ The Coalface

Whitehaven’s involvement at the site continues with its progression into rehabilitation operations. Having commenced land management measures almost ten years ago, roughly half – or about 235 hectares – of land disturbed by mining has already been rehabilitated.

The next stage of the program focuses on establishing an open box gum woodland scape that is safe, sustainable, and beneficial to the surrounding environment.

Whitehaven Managing Director and CEO Paul Flynn expressed his gratitude to the team overseeing the rehabilitation, as well as the permanent employees who have operated the mine since Whitehaven assumed full control.

“We’re fortunate that many of our Werris Creek staff have opted to relocate with Whitehaven as opposed to seeking work elsewhere. This high retention rate is a testament to the site’s management team and the high-performing culture they’ve developed.

“What we have achieved at Werris Creek – two decades of strong, safe and sustainable operations – would not have been possible without the efforts of a small but dedicated team of people. I’m proud to celebrate this extraordinary site and all those who helped make it tick – I know it will always hold a special place in many hearts.”

Werris Creek @ The Coalface

Key statistics:
– 1925-1963: Werris Creek Colliery was operated by Preston Coal (bord-and-pillar operation)
– 2005: Operations commenced under Whitehaven ownership (open cut operation)
– 2.5 million Tonnes of coal produced each year
– 300 people: Peak operational workforce
– $200 million: Spending with local businesses and suppliers under Whitehaven ownership
– $234 million: Royalties paid to the NSW Government
– $3 million: Investment in local charitable initiatives across the Liverpool Plains
– 2027: Rehabilitation expected to be concluded

Images: Taylah Maree Photography and J and A Brown/Coal and Allied Archive: University of Newcastle Living Histories Collection.

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