Donaldson Coal Complex

The Donaldson Coal Complex consists of three mines – one open-cut mine (Donaldson) and two underground mines (Abel and Tasman). In 2013, the mines transitioned to lower production volumes. In April 2013, Donaldson Open Cut ceased after exhaustion of reserves and in July 2013, Tasman underground also finished mining. At the time of writing (May 2015), only Abel underground is in production. The mining complex is about 20 km west of Newcastle. The complex is owned by the Yancoal Australia Group, which was formed following the merger of Gloucester Coal and Yancoal in mid-2012 (Yancoal, 2015a, p. 1). There are four mining leases for the three mine areas: ML 1461 (Donaldson Open Cut), ML 1555 (Tasman underground), ML 1618 (Abel underground) and ML 1653 (Abel underground) (Yancoal, 2015a, p. 1). In addition, there are four exploration licences (EL) held by Donaldson Coal in the area, namely EL 5337, EL 5497, EL 5498 and EL 6954.

Abel Coal Mine

Abel Coal Mine is owned by Donaldson Coal Ltd (Donaldson Coal) which is a part of the Yancoal Australia Group. The mine project was approved in 2007 and the mine started operations in 2008 (Abel, 2011), with a planned mine life of 20 years (Abel, 2007, p. 5). The Abel Coal Mine is approximately 25 km from the Port of Newcastle, with the access portal coming off the high wall of the Donaldson Open Cut Mine. In 2007 the mine had a proposed production up to 4.5 Mt/year of ROM coal (Abel, 2007, p. 3) which is produced via underground extraction using bord-and-pillar mining methods with continuous miners (Donaldson Coal, 2015a). Coal is extracted from the Upper Donaldson and Lower Donaldson coal seams (Abel, 2007, p. 5).

The mine uses existing surface infrastructure and the Bloomfield CHPP, rail loader and rail loop for coal processing and loading (Donaldson Coal, 2015a). Coal is transported via conveyor through the high wall to the surface infrastructure area of the Donaldson Open Cut Mine, then onto the Bloomfield CHPP, where it is processed and loaded for transport by rail to the Port of Newcastle (Donaldson Coal, 2015a). Current resources and reserves for Abel of 630 Mt and 115 Mt, respectively, are reported in the OZMIN database.

Donaldson Open Cut Mine

The Donaldson Open Cut Mine, near Beresfield in the Lower Hunter Valley, is approximately 25 km from the Port of Newcastle. It occurs on Mining Lease (ML) 1461 within the Maitland and Cessnock Councils (Donaldson Coal, 2015b). Donaldson Coal was granted project approval for the Donaldson Open Cut Mine under Section 75J of NSW’s Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 on 25 January 2001 (Donaldson Coal, 2012, p. 1). Open-cut operations commenced in 2001 (Yancoal, 2015c, p. 1) and ceased in 2013 (Yancoal, 2015c; Yancoal, 2014, p. 5). Donaldson Coal proposed the development of the Abel underground mine south from the high wall of Donaldson Open Cut Coal Mine in 2005 (Abel, 2005, p. 2).

Coal was extracted by conventional truck and shovel haul back methods in the former open-cut operation (Donalson Coal, 2015b), producing 2.5 Mt/year of ROM coal (Abel, 2005, p. 18). Coal produced from the Donaldson Mine was trucked to the Bloomfield CHPP, blended and washed to produce coking and thermal coal products, and then transported by rail to the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG) port facility in Newcastle for the export market.

At the Donaldson complex, soil, other overburden and coal are removed, and the mine area is progressively backfilled and rehabilitated (Donalson Coal, 2015b). Rehabilitation at the complex commenced in 2003 (Yancoal, 2014, p. 5).

Tasman Coal Mine

Tasman Coal Mine is an underground mine owned by Donaldson Coal (Tyler and Sutherland, 2011). The mine is located south of Maitland, approximately 20 km from the Port of Newcastle (Donaldson Coal, 2015c).

Mining at Tasman Coal Mine started in late 2006 (Tyler and Sutherland, 2011). The mine had consent to operate until 2025 (Abel, 2007, p. 7) under ML 1555 (Kuskie, 2008, p. 2), with a production limit of 0.975 Mt/year of ROM coal. Operations targeted the Fassifern coal seam, which has a thickness of 2.2 to 2.5 m in the mine area (Tyler and Sutherland, 2011). Extraction occurred via bord-and-pillar mining methods using continuous miners for first workings and secondary extraction using breaker line supports (Donaldson Coal, 2015; Tyler and Sutherland, 2011).

Coal from Tasman Coal Mine was washed at Bloomfield’s CHPP under a commercial arrangement between Donaldson and Bloomfield Collieries (Abel, 2007, p. 7), to produce semi-soft coking and thermal coal for the export market (Yancoal, 2015c). The Tasman Mine ceased production in July 2013. Current resources and reserves for Tasman of 254.7 Mt and 34.6 Mt, respectively, are reported in the OZMIN database (as of December 2012).

Last updated:
18 January 2019
Thumbnail of the Hunter subregion

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