1 April, 2022
New Hope Acland Mine submitted all documents
New Hope Acland Mine General Manager Dave O’Dwyer said the company has officially handed over all relevant approval documentation to the Coordinator General.
Mr O’Dwyer said the mine opened in 2002 and New Hope has been waiting for Stage 3 approval for last 15 years.
“It’s not expanding per say,” he said.
“We are just digging another pit the exact same width and depth as the other two stages.
“We aren’t digging deep enough to reach the ground water supply and contaminate it.”
Mr O’Dwyer explained how the company has a pastoral portion of the business that grazes cattle on rehabilitated land, therefore all previously mined land must be cattle-friendly.
New Hope has a total of 349 hectares of certified rehabilitated land, which has undergone environmental checks and been assessed for stability.
“We only plant grass cover and sometimes seeds for native plants if needed, as the top soil generally grows its own foliage,” Mr O’Dwyer said.
Mr O’Dwyer said that all the trees that now litter the landscape have grown on their own. the only exception are the bottle trees.
New Hope Acland Mine has been in caretaker mode since November 2021, which involves keeping the mine in operational order so it is ready to go when and if approval is forthcoming.
While there is no coal being mined, workers are processing and washing the last bit of coal from the Stage 2 pit.
Mr O’Dwyer said the toughest part has been letting the majority of the workforce go.
“On this day twelve months ago we had 320 people working here and now we are down to just twenty,” he said.
“This has led to a loss in skilled workers who could operate heavy machinery and drive the coal trucks.
“A lot of the former employees have either retired or moved on, so another challenge is retraining a new workforce,” he said.
New Hope also lost a lot of its customers who had to go elsewhere when the mine closed.
“The Land Court gave us the green light to follow through with the approval process, which is what we’re doing right now,” he said.
“We’re confident we can mine here and farmers can farm here.”
Peter Kuhl owns a 2,000 acre farm on the northern section of the mine, which his family have owned since 1965.
Mr Kuhl said that they have had no issues with the mine being approved and not noticed any ground water contamination.
“You can’t please some people,” he said.
“The mine has been very accommodating.
“If you complain about a specific problem they rectify it.
“We had an issue with the big lights interfering, so we just ring them up and they turn them around.
“If you complain about its existence then you won’t be taken seriously.”
Mr Kuhl said what’s not mentioned in the media is how much the mine supports the local community.
The mine wants to build their workforce back up to 320 locals.
“We don’t employ FIFO workers,” Mr O’Dwyer said.
“All our staff have been from the surrounding local towns.
“All our contracted businesses and suppliers must also live within a one hour radius of the mine.”