An application to
extract a 25,000 tonne bulk sample
was lodged in 2003
with the former Department of Mineral
Resources (now part of the Department
of Primary Industries) to allow potential
customers in South East Asia to conduct
trial combustion burns of the coal.
After its approval in January 2004,
the sample was extracted during 2004
and early 2005.
A key element of the
application was the removal of approximately
bcm of overburden. The overburden
was used to rehabilitate an existing
left by previous mining of flint
clay at the site.
below illustrates the area of the
The bulk sample extraction
was a small project, disturbing less
than two hectares of the property.
Work was carried out only during daylight
hours and equipment used was limited
to an excavator/loader and trucks.
The area of work is not visible from
any public access point.
A comprehensive Review of Environmental
Factors (REF) for extraction of the
bulk sample was placed on exhibition
for comment in 2002 following an
extensive consultation process, both
with the community and relevant Government
A number of concerns were raised during
the REF exhibition, mainly related
to the extraction of ground water and
its use. After the exhibition period
the, then, Minister for Mineral Resources
requested that the company undertake
further studies, which were carried
out early in 2003 at South Bickham.
In addition, water quality monitoring
of both ground and surface water (Pages
River) commenced in mid 2002 to provide
background data for the bulk sample
A comprehensive monitoring program
was undertaken throughout the bulk
sample recovery program, which included
monitoring volumes of groundwater pumped,
groundwater and surface water quality,
water levels in the dewatering bores,
piezometers and Pages River, and water
quality monitoring of runoff collected
in the sediment control structures;
this program continues.
A water license was obtained to allow
the extraction of up to 20 megalitres
of water from two bores adjacent to
during the excavation. Among other
things the water was used for dust
suppression and watering of the site.
Initially there was concern, from
some, that the bulk sample may
effects on Burning Mountain Nature
Reserve. Reassurance was given,
however, that this was not the
Mountain is more than six kilometers
south-west of the bulk sample excavation
and there have been at least six
flint clay operations closer to
Burning Mountain than the bulk
with the nearest of these being
within 1.5 km. Blasting was extensively
used and the flint clay voids are
larger than the sample excavation.
No adverse effects on Burning Mountain
were reported during the 20 plus
years of active flint clay mining
in the area.
Bickham Community Consultative Committee
A Community Consultative Committee
was appointed in 2004, under the
chairmanship of Warren Cook.
The Community Consultative Committee,
formed as part of the approval conditions,
was the voice of the community in addressing
operational and environmental issues.
The committee also had representatives
of State and local government, in addition
to the Bickham Coal Company.
The members were:
Doonan, former Mayor and Councillor
Moxon, Murrurundi newsagent
Roberts, Murrurundi resident and
former school teacher
Rossington, an irrigation farmer
Satara, the closest adjoining landholder
to the Bickham
The committee had its first meeting
on site on 21 June 2004.
Downloadable PDF versions of the Meeting
Minutes are < available
BCC supports and encourages involvement
from the local community. During
the bulk sample, ten locals were
employed on the project, by both
direct employment and via contractors.
Around 14 people in total were employed
over a period of six months. For
more information <
click here >.
Coal processing and transport
Coal was hauled from the bulk sample
excavation to a temporary stockpile
and reloaded onto on-highway coal
trucks. From there the trucks followed
the roads used by the flint clay
operation to the New England Highway.
Originally the coal trucks were to
travel to the Dartbrook Coal Washery,
however, due to unforeseen circumstances
the location changed to Rix’s
Creek Mine near Singleton. The coal
was railed to Newcastle from the
new location where it was shipped
to Asia. Up to 18 truck movements
per day took place on the route over
a 10-12 week period.
Once complete, the bulk sample site
was rehabilitated and the benefits
are in the process of being realised.
For example, overburden was used in
full remediation work on the old flint
clay void and the bulk sample void
will provide for long term water storage
if no further mining takes place at
Reshaping of the overburden emplacement
and coal stockpile area is complete,
while native grasses sown are slowly
establishing on the areas under the
protection of a cover crop. In the
near future, native seed collection
on the property will be sown on these
In addition, implementation of a Rivercare
Plan for the section of the Pages River
through the property continues, with
the physical removal of weeds from
sections of the banks. The first steps
were to re-fence those areas of the
river where it was not possible to
keep stock away from the water, then
followed some planting of riparian
Results of Environmental Monitoring
The following are results from the
environmental monitoring that took
place during the bulk sample excavation.
ground water that was removed
during the bulk sample excavation
far less than originally predicted. The
amount extracted was less than
16 megalitres over the six-month duration of the
water was from a hard rock
aquifer only, and water
was extracted under
an industrial license
for safety and environmental dust
dust deposition gauge 3
closest to the nearest
residence has shown
a decrease in deposition
levels since monitoring commenced
bulk sample operation
had no impact on air quality at the
as recorded by the monitoring
studies show structures
were simpler than previously
modeled. Any faults existed only as minor
monitoring undertaken during
the bulk sample
that no significant changes in water
quality were detected.
bulk sample, the water
showed no evidence
of any water quality impact on the Pages River as
a result of
the dewatering, and no evidence of
any direct hydraulic connection
and the Pages River.