Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Tyrrell, W, Environmental Aspects of Mine Planning, in Aziz, N (ed), Coal 2004: Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2004, 77-84.


Underground mining has occurred in the Illawarra region for more than 150 years. Over time, community expectations about the environmental effects of mining and other developments have changed dramatically. It is in this context that community, government, and environmental groups have raised concerns about the effects that mining can have on rivers and other natural features, residential property, and infrastructure, such as transmission lines, roads, and bridges. On natural features, these effects can include fracturing of the rock bedding in the river, water loss to the shallow sub-strata, gas release, rock falls, and vegetation dieback. In the past, mine planning has considered potential effects on engineered structures, however, the same attention has not been paid to the effects of mining on natural features. Through a Stakeholder Involvement Programme conducted by Illawarra Coal, it was identified that government and community stakeholders were seeking a more sensitive approach be taken to mine planning, particularly in significant and high risks areas. As a result, mine planning processes are being reviewed to take into account the effects of mining on the surface features. The focus of this paper is the programme undertaken by BHP Billiton – Illawarra Coal to integrate environmental assessments into mine planning. This has involved internal workshops and projects, together with external consultation. The process that the company is utilising to fully incorporate environmental assessments into the mine planning process is described. The purpose of this process is to identify surface features, determine their sensitivity, develop mitigation and remediation options, and potentially avoidance measures early in the mine planning process. Another key aspect of the process is to incorporate internal and external stakeholder feedback as part of the mine planning process. In implementing this process, it is anticipated that it will provide a more secure outcome for the business. This is expected to occur through understanding and addressing environmental issues and incorporating stakeholder feedback early in the mine planning process, therefore minimizing the risk of costly changes to mine plans being required within short time frames. The rigorous Integrated Mine Planning Process (IMPP) will give the business confidence that the mine plan submitted through the Subsidence Management Plan (SMP) application to government has the highest probability of approval and will provide the most sustainable outcome – for the environment, community, and Illawarra Coal.

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