END OF AN ERA: New Hope General manger of West Moreton mining operations Trent Knack.
END OF AN ERA: New Hope General manger of West Moreton mining operations Trent Knack. Rob Williams

Ipswich closing lid on coal mining

FOR THE past 37 years it has been the mountain of riches on Ipswich's western doorstep.

Coal is a finite resource and at Jeebropilly - barely 10km from the centre of Ipswich - that resource has almost been exhausted after being extracted at a rate of up to two million tonnes a year since the mine first opened in 1982.

New Hope Group general manager of West Moreton Operations Trent Knack says the workforce totalling some 88 full-time employees is now preparing itself for the inevitable shut-down of the Ipswich mine at the end of this year.

He said the company was doing what it could to assist employees in the transition.

"We have a number of people who will be ready to retire after Jeebropilly shuts down, but also some who may move towards FIFO," Mr Knack said.

Staying with New Hope and not joining the FIFO workforce could involve moving closer to the company's other operations in Newcastle or Acland; pending approvals of Stage 3.

The progress of another mine in Burton, central Queensland hinges on the results of a feasibility study.

Jeebropilly's current production level of about 680,000 tonnes a year feeds into Japanese power production with some exports also going to Taiwan. Of the two open-cut pits currently producing coal, the one on the southern side of Ipswich-Rosewood Rd will shut down in a couple of months' time, with the northern pit to produce coal until October.

The massive job of rehabilitating the land to its original topography is being carried out immediately behind the mining activity.

After the mine shuts in mid-December, the wash pit will be dismantled, but by that time New Hope plans to have the bulk of its earthworks completed. It will mark the end of a long era of coal mining in Ipswich, with Jeebropilly the last of the New Hope-owned operations to be shut down.

What happens to the Jeebropilly site after this year remains subject to government approvals, however the proposal is for Lantrak to operate a landfill over 70ha of what is a 700ha site.

Ownership would transfer to the landfill operator if the plan is approved by the Department of Environment and Science and Ipswich City Council.