It’s full steam ahead for the Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue’s Cattle Grazing Study, as 20 steers have been introduced to the study sites at Coal & Allied’s Hunter Valley Operations mine site and the adjoining control property, Wandewoi. It follows the introduction of another 20 steers to the study sites at BHP Billiton’s Mt Arthur Coal mine site and the adjoining Edderton control property, run by an experienced cattle grazier, earlier this year.
The study is investigating whether rehabilitated mine land can sustainably support productive and profitable livestock grazing. Experts are grazing areas that have been mined and recently rehabilitated as well as neighbouring unmined control sites over a period of 42 months. The project is being managed by the NSW Department of Primary Industries and is also being overseen by the Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue’s joint working group on Land Management, which includes representatives of local grazing and community groups, as well as representatives from government and local miners.
The cattle have all been weighed and tagged, blood has been tested and baseline studies on soil and pasture have been undertaken on the sites before the cattle were introduced. These measures will again be checked throughout the study to help understand how cattle on the rehabilitated site are faring against those on the control sites.
A Grazing Study Advisory Panel, which includes local grazier and NSW Minewatch President Wendy Bowman and the Secretary of the Singleton Beef and Land Management Association Leonie Ball, will assist the Department of Primary Industries in making decisions about the ongoing management of the cattle during the study.
The first set of results on the study’s progress are expected in the first quarter of 2015.