Rehabilitation Principles and Commitments

All mines in the region undertake regular rehabilitation to provide temporary or final cover of land disturbed by mining. However, information about the industry as a whole hasn’t been easy to access or understand.
The joint working group has developed a set of common principles, agreed by the region’s eight coal producers, to drive improvements in the speed of rehabilitation and to provide aggregate data to the community about total land disturbed and rehabilitated.
The principles are outlined below, as well as individual company reports and aggregated yearly data reported since 2012. A fact sheet highlighting the project results fro 2018 and identifying clear trends is available here:

Rehabilitation Industry Principles & Committments - 2017 Results, Analysis and Trends

Measuring our progress - Rehabilitation Reporting

A large proportion of the coal mining in the Upper Hunter region is known as ‘open cut’ mining which means that there are areas of disturbed land that must be rehabilitated as part of the mining process.
The Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue Joint Working Group – Land Management has developed a set of principles and commitments that aim to decrease the periods of time that disturbed areas are left without temporary or final cover to minimise any impacts on the landscape or air quality.
This commitment means that each Upper Hunter coal producer will publicly report their progress against the principles each year.  We’ll also compile the total area of land disturbed and rehabilitated each year, which is another first for the industry. 


Temporary and Final Rehabilitation Principles and Commitments

  1. Include rehabilitation planning in mine planning - Planning for rehabilitation should be integrated into the mine planning process and should include allocating adequate and dedicated resources to achieve the planned rehabilitation outcomes.
  2. Undertake progressive rehabilitation - Companies should undertake rehabilitation progressively, with the objective of ensuring that rehabilitation is as close as possible to active mining. 
  3. Minimise time that disturbed areas are left without vegetation - Companies should actively seek to minimise the time that land is left without cover during mining.  This should include:
    - Taking steps to ensure that rehabilitation is commenced within 12 months of land becoming available for rehabilitation.
    - Utilising methods of temporary rehabilitation[1], such as aerial seeding of overburden and other disturbed areas where permanent rehabilitation has not commenced.
  4. Prioritise areas of rehabilitation and temporary cover to reduce impacts - Companies should prioritise rehabilitation and temporary cover in those areas where leaving land exposed will have the most impact.  The following areas should be considered to have priority:
    - Areas that have the greatest impact on visual amenity, such as areas that face townships, residences, or the highway
    - Areas that have the potential to generate dust leaving the site.
    - Areas that are important for biodiversity, such as rehabilitation adjoining or providing connectivity to remnant vegetation.
  5. Meet target for rehabilitation progress identified in the Mining Operations Plan - Each company should meet the annual target for rehabilitation quantity (area) set in the Mining Operations Plans for each of its mines.
  6. Set quality targets for rehabilitation in the Mining Operations Plan and implement a monitoring program to measure performance - Each company should include quality targets for the various types of rehabilitation in the Mining Operations Plan for each of its mines.  A monitoring program to measure the performance of rehabilitation areas against the quality targets should be implemented at each of its mines.
[1] Temporary rehabilitation describes reshaping, revegetation and other rehabilitation techniques that are used for purposes other than final rehabilitation.  This includes such initiatives as seeding overburden emplacement areas to reduce erosion, which are only temporary.‚Äč

Aggregate reporting on land use and disturbance of UHMD members


[1] Rehabilitation is defined by the Mining Act 1992 as the treatment or management of disturbed land or water for the purpose of establishing a safe and stable environment.
[2]Row E2013 may not equal Row C2013 + Row E2012 as areas that have been previously rehabilitated, then re-disturbed are excluded from the Total area of rehabilitation of all operations at the end of the reporting period
[3]The rehabilitation to disturbance ratio indicates how many hectares of rehabilitation are undertaken for each hectare of land disturbed during the year. A ratio of 1 indicates that the area of rehabilitation and disturbance in that year are the same.
[4] Row A(Year) does not necessarily equal Row D (Year -1) because some companies have reconciled their figures and corrected them over time.
[5] There have been substantial changes in the amount of 'Other Land Managed' between 2013 and 2014 because: (i) significant increases in additional offset areas have been established, and (ii) because some of the land previously identified as being used for Agriculture is now being used for mining purposes or biodiversity offsets.
[6] The increase in land newly disturbed in 2015 is predominantly due to the establishment of the Bulga Optimisation project.
In light of the commencement of a new operation, we have included two columns for 2017 figures - one including Mount Pleasant Operations (MPO) figures, and one excluding these figures. Typically, during the initial stages of a mining operation a larger amount of disturbance is conducted to establish the mine and associated infrastructure. As the mine develops, progressive rehabilitation is conducted and much of the initial disturbance is rehabilitated.  
While the rehabilitation to disturbance ratio dips to 0.57 in 2017, from 0.71 in 2016. If you exclude the MPO data this figure becomes positive at 1.03. This demonstrates that the industry has conducted more rehabilitation than disturbance putting aside the development of MPO.