Mined land in NSW is required to be rehabilitated as a condition of consent and this must be carried out by the mining company during and after mining is complete.
There are many of examples of mined land in NSW being rehabilitated for a range of environmental, industrial and community uses, but one of the questions asked is whether rehabilitated mine land can sustainably support productive and profitable grazing in the Upper Hunter – a Dialogue grazing trial shows the answer to this question is “Yes”.
The Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue’s Grazing Study grazed cattle on rehabilitated pastures and compared the results to cattle grazed on nearby paddocks that have never been mined.
From June 2014 to April 2017, two lots of cattle were grazed on rehabilitated paddocks at Hunter Valley Operations (HVO – a joint venture between Yancoal and Glencore) site near Singleton and BHP’s Mount Arthur Mine site at Muswellbrook.
In both sets of trials, the cattle on rehabilitated sites gained more weight than the cattle grazing on the unmined or “analogue” sites located adjacent to the rehabilitated sites.
The cattle were also sent to market and tested with no worrying results.
The results from the rehabilitated and unmined paddocks were independently monitored and compared.
The study was designed and monitored by the NSW Department of Primary Industries in collaboration with the Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue Joint Working Group - Land Management, including representatives from agricultural groups, local farmers, environmental groups, state and local government and the mining industry. It received funding through ACARP, which is a unique and highly successful mining research program that was established in 1992.
The trial also monitored the health of the cattle through blood tests and monitored the pasture, providing valuable information on the growth rates and feed quality of the rehabilitated land.
With the study comparing the results from two mobs of cattle at each of the rehabilitated and analogue paddocks, both the HVO and Mt Arthur sites livestock’s weight gain outperformed the cattle grazing on the analogue sites.
Importantly, tests performed on the cattle and pasture feed showed no unusual results due to the pastures formerly being used for mining.
For more information about the project, visit the ACARP project page here
More information on the Dialogue’s Grazing Study can be found in this poster