Mount Arthur Coal Mine Complex

Mount Arthur Coal Mine is an open-cut coal mine first owned by Coal Operations Australia Ltd, and then by Hunter Valley Energy Coal Pty Ltd (HVEC), both wholly owned subsidiaries of BHP Billiton. The mine is 8 km south of Muswellbrook in the Upper Hunter Valley. It consists of two areas: the northern open-cut (formerly known as Mount Arthur North) and the southern open-cut (including Bayswater No. 2, Bayswater No. 3, and the South Pit extension).

BHP Billiton was granted the Mount Arthur North Coal Exploration lease in July 1998 and received development consent and a mining lease in 2001 (BHP Billiton, 2001) and mining commenced in 2002. In 2007, the South Pit Extension project was approved. Mount Arthur North was then extended 2.4 km further to the south and the previously approved extraction rate of 15 Mt/year was increased by 3 Mt/year (NSW Department of Planning, 2007, p. ii).

Underground operations were authorised in 2008 for the Mount Arthur Underground Project for a mining rate of up to 8 Mt/year. The project comprises longwall mining operations from five coal seams with transport of ROM coal by conveyor, but no underground mining is currently taking place (BHP Billiton, 2013, p. 2-1). In 2010, the NSW Government approved a mining rate for the Mount Arthur complex of 36 Mt/year of ROM coal with a maximum of 32 Mt/year from open-cut mining. In 2013, HVEC proposed to extend the duration of the mining operations to 2026 (instead of 2022). This was approved by the NSW Government Planning Assessment Commission in 2014 (NSW Planning Assessment Commission, 2014b, p. 2).

Mount Arthur North is comprised of several sub-pits, namely Macleans Hills, Windmill, Calool and Roxburgh. Coal is currently extracted from 15 different seams at Mount Arthur North (BHP Billiton, 2013, p. 2-1). Multi-bench multi-strip shovels and excavators are used for mining operations, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Coal is transported onsite by a fleet of trucks to the CHPP in the eastern part of the mine complex. The CHPP is approved to process 36 Mt/year of ROM coal. It is connected by conveyors to the loading facilities that consist of a ROM pad area with two ROM coal hoppers for stockpiling (BHP Billiton, 2013, p. 2-1).

Product coal for the domestic market is transported by conveyors to Bayswater Power Station owned by Macquarie Generation. Coal for the export market is loaded onto trains at the rail loading facility and then transported to the Port of Newcastle via the Antiene Rail Spur and the Main Northern Railway line. The approved capacity of rail haulage is 27 Mt/year (BHP Billiton, 2013, p. 2-3).

About 30% of ROM coal processed becomes reject coal. Of the reject coal 19% is coarse and stored in overburden emplacements or stockpiling or other infrastructures. The remainder is the fine rejects or tailings stored in the tailings emplacement area, which has a maximum height of 280 m (BHP Billiton, 2013, p. 2-3).

Water is managed onsite according to their Site Water Management Plan approved in 2012 by the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure. A network of on-site mine water storages and sediment storages provide water supply for non-potable use, mainly for the CHPP. The Bayswater Main Dam is the most important storage supply for the CHPP plant. The total capacity of the on-site storages is 13.5 ML. They are filled with groundwater seepage and runoff from the industrial area, workshops and administration area, and all the areas disturbed by mining (BHP Billiton, 2012, p. 5-6).

The Mount Arthur Coal Mine Complex also uses water pumped from the Hunter River and treated effluent from the facilities operated by Muswellbrook local council. Water in the mine storage sites is re-used onsite. Excess water is transferred from the Bayswater Main Dam to the environmental dam, then directed to the Hunter River under the Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme (BHP Billiton, 2012, p. 5-6). SubZero Group Ltd signed a contract with HVEC to decommission the Bayswater Main Dam and upgrade the water system network. Operations for this upgrade began in April 2013 (SubZero Group Ltd, 2013). As part of the development of Mount Arthur North, the channel of Whites Creek has been diverted to avoid the infrastructure (BHP Billiton, 2013, p. 2-3).

Bayswater No. 3

Bayswater No. 3 is part of the Mount Arthur Coal Mine, an open-cut coal mine 8 km south of Muswellbrook. The mine is currently owned by Hunter Valley Energy Coal Pty Ltd (HVEC), a subsidiary of BHP Billiton. The Mount Arthur Coal Mine Complex includes Bayswater No. 2 (completed extraction), Bayswater No. 3, Mount Arthur North, and the South Pit extension of Mount Arthur North. Open-cut mining commenced in 1966 at Bayswater No. 2 and ceased in 1998 after the construction of the Mount Arthur North Mine. Approval was granted for Bayswater No. 3 development in 1994 (WSP Global Inc, 2013, p. 1). In 2007, an extraction rate of up to 3.8 Mt/year for Bayswater No. 3 was approved by the NSW Government (NSW Department of Planning, 2007, p. 8). Other information regarding the further development of mining operations, equipment, processing and transportation of coal, and water management are detailed in Section

Last updated:
18 January 2019
Thumbnail of the Hunter subregion

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