30 April 2010

Rehabilitated land matches local farmers' crop production levels

Pictured: Local grazier Peter Nichols is about to start commercial re-cropping of the land.

A trial to rehabilitate land that was previously mined at Hunter Valley Operations (HVO) has shown it can produce crops at the same levels as undisturbed land on nearby properties.

The 120 hectare plot of alluvial lands, located in the middle of HVO's mining lease near the Hunter River, was the site of a three-year trial to produce lucerne.

The results of this alluvial lands project are significant, not only for Coal & Allied, but for the rest of the Hunter Valley which is a key region for both mining and agriculture," said Coal & Allied General Manager Health, Safety and Environment, Rory Gordon.

"For three years to 2007, we measured the crop yield of our rehabilitated land, and compared it to the average crop yield of six other local lucerne producers.

"Our land matched these average production levels, which highlights the value of rehabilitation programs.

"Sustainability is a key focus at Coal & Allied, we understand that the work we do today has an impact on how we live in the future.

"That's why we have extensive plans in place to ensure land that has been mined is available in the future for other uses, such as conservation, agriculture and housing."

Local grazier Peter Nichols has now been awarded a tender to commercially re-crop the land, which has lain fallow since the trial's conclusion.

The tender process attracted five submissions, which were assessed not only on price, but also on the farmers' commitment to upholding Coal & Allied's values of safety and environmental stewardship

"This is a good block of land that has proven its productivity under the recent trial period after rehabilitation," said Mr Nichols.

"It will continue to be used in conjunction with our other leased property in the area to carry out cropping and finishing of cattle for sale."

Mr Gordon said the results of the three year trial were due to careful land management.

"In 1990, before mining even began in the area, we mapped out the soil profile then selectively stored topsoil and subsoil into separate stockpiles," Mr Gordon said.

"When mining was complete in 2003, we started a rehabilitation project to replace the subsoil and topsoil, which we had disturbed.

"We replaced the whole soil profile to a depth of 1.5 metres to accommodate crops with deep roots such as lucerne.

"This depth was determined from our research and from onsite trials conducted prior to the commencement of mine rehabilitation."

Pictured: Lucerne produced during the cropping trial.

Media Enquiries: Matthew Klar 07 3029 1168 / 0457 525 578