New—and some very imaginative— ideas for making use of mine voids were developed by community members at this week’s Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue (UHMD) Community Day in Muswellbrook.
Around fifty attendees at the Muswellbrook Regional Art Centre were told about mine rehabilitation progress in the area, and updated on several Dialogue projects concerning air quality, infrastructure and housing, water and land management.
The Community Day kicked off with a Dialogue Breakfast co-hosted by the Muswellbrook Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
John Richards, Managing Director of The Bloomfield Group and Chair of the Dialogue told attendees about his own history working in the mining industry, the importance of the Dialogue in working with the community and provided some encouraging economic forecasts for coal, particularly in southeast Asia, where coal fired power production is forecast to quadruple by 2040 (International Energy Agency 2015).
After the breakfast, there were a number of events under way. Radio host Steve Cenatiempo hosted interviews with Dialogue participants on the Hunter Valley Today Show on 2NM. Interviewees included Joel Fitzgibbon, Michael Johnsen, Stephen Galilee, John Drinan, Mike Kelly, John Richards, Tim Roberts, Dave O’Brien and many more.
In the afternoon, students of both St Joseph’s in Aberdeen and Singleton High School toured Glencore’s Mangoola mine – where they were able to have a first hand view of the successful rehabilitation that is occurring at the site.
Students then heard from Tim Roberts from the Tom Farrell Institute at Newcastle University, who explained how Bees are assisting in rehabilitation.
In the afternoon, attendees engaged in an interesting discussion and analysis of the potential benefits and impacts of future mine voids (or pit lakes) in the Upper Hunter.
The list of ideas was extensive, and included some unique ideas like hydroelectric energy, flood proofing and bushfire water storage, military training, aquaculture, emergency services, meat processing, film sets, various recreational uses (e.g. diving, sailing, mountain/trail biking, rock climbing, abseiling, surfing, golf, fishing), as well as some more conventional concepts such as creating a residential/commercial development, wildlife habitat, waste management and tourism facilities.
A workshop report will be published in early 2016 that summarises the workshop’s discussions.