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Mining Engineering Systems: Legislation Of Mines In Australia

Question

Task:To pass this Supplementary Assessment you are required to gain an overall mark of 50% or greater. The maximum mark you can gain for this Supplementary Assessment is a Pass mark.

  1. You are undertaking an Environmental Impact Assessment for a new Uranium Mine tenement that lies adjacent to Kakadu National Park. What legislation do you have to adhere to and briefly provide an overview of what the legislation is about? Your answers can be placed in a 2-column table i.e. that in column 1 names the legislation and column 2 describes it.
  2. Complete the following table to gain an understanding of the major forms of mineralisation found in Australia. Provide examples of such mines, along with their geographic location (include state or territory), from the literature. Your answers must specify the major ores types mined at each of these mines, and the rock types (geology) that hosts the ore.
  3. Table 2.1 Styles of mineralisation, ores and associated geologies found in Australia
  4.  

    Styles of

    Mineralisation

    Definition of style of

    mineralisation

    Mine Name

    (example) and URL of web site.

    Geographic location of mine

    (include State or

    Territory)

    Major

    Ore types

    mined at

    mine

    Host rock/s of

    ore/s from local geology

    Volcanic

    Hosted

    Massive

    Sulphide

    (VHMS)

     

     

     

     

     

    Banded Iron Formation

     

     

     

     

     

    Placer Deposit (choose 1 deposit only)

     

     

     

     

     

    Hydrothermal Deposit

     

     

     

     

     

    Porphyry

    Copper

    Deposit

     

     

     

     

     

    Secondary

    Enrichment

    Deposit e.g. Bauxite

     

     

     

     

     

  5. Adani has recently gained the requisite legislative and other approvals to start its mining operations in the Galilee Basin in Queensland. What were the major issues this company had to address before it could proceed? What was the State and Federal Government legislation that had to be addressed?
  6. Describe a longwall coal mining method where the panels are mined on retreat. Use correct terminology to describe the various types of development. What is a typical panel size? How far should development be kept ahead of the producing panel? Why is this important? What are the engineering factors that limit the production capacity of the longwall mining method?
  7. Research Kalgoorlie gold mining operations. How much gold is produced annually from the Fimiston Super Pit? Describe the mining method used by KCGM to produce gold from the Fimiston Super Pit? Discuss the depth of the mine, the size of the haul truck fleet and the key pieces of equipment used. How much longer is the pit expected to produce gold? Looking at the history of gold mining in the Kalgoorlie region what has influenced the choice of open cut or underground mining methods over time?

Answer

Introduction
This project report has been created to analyse the various mines in Australia and the legislations associated with them. A study of this report will help the reader understand the most prominent forms of mineralisation found in Australia, their topographical location, and the main ores quarried in such mines. While carrying on the process of mining for resources, it is not only essential to have possessed knowledge about the engineering systems, but also the legislations associated with them. The focus of this report lies in the combination of mining engineering systems and the statutory norms related to them. Moreover, the report aims to lay emphasis on the importance of regulatory standards by elucidating on a case developed in Queensland, Australia. Various intricate details and technical information regarding mining engineering and legislation have been presented in this study.

1. Environmental impact assessment at Kakadu National Park
Mining activities are subject to regulatory norms which are essential to be noted before the mining process begins. This is because of the involvement of several authorities in the process and in meeting various other facets. Mining legislations regulate the environmental impact of the process and aim to put thresholds on the mining activities so as to reduce the impact on the assessment. The Kakadu National Park is a gigantic and biodiverse natural reserve in the Northern Territory of Australia. It is home to a large number of flora and fauna native to the area and is conserved by the government of Australia. Therefore, the mining of uranium in an area close to the Kakadu National Park would increase the risk of adding several adverse environmental impacts (Miller et al., 2015). Some of these adverse impacts include reducing the quality of surface water, ecological exposure pathways, and many others. This has been regulated by the ‘Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999’, that provides a framework for conserving the Australian biodiversity and environment (environment.gov.au, 2019). This Act was enacted in July 2000, and replaced the ‘National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1975.’

Legislation

Description

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

Identifies the matters of important state environmental issues, including the world heritage chattels, National heritage properties and places, wetlands, threatened species and commonwealth marine places. The Act preserves the Australian Biodiversity and deals with the environmental analysis and approval processes. The Act also promotes the knowledge of the indigenous communities towards the conservation of the environment (Graetz and Manning, 2016). Regarding the uranium mining in the area, this Act will set up limits and frame guidelines to preserve the safety of the miners and sustaining the environmental development of the area. The nuclear actions in the Kakadu region, will therefore be regulated by the EPBC Act.

Planning and Development Act 2007

This Act regulates the sustainable development of the mining area in the country (austlii.edu.au, 2019). It also enumerates the appointment of a ‘Chief Planning Executive’ that would regulate the activities of the mining operators and frame guidelines for mining activities in Australian territories.

Mineral Titles Act 2010

This Act defines the act of mining in its own statutes, and lists the minerals that can be excavated by the mining operators. In addition, the Act also enlists methods to be followed for the exploration of land for mining and prohibits the use of pastoral or native land for mining. It also emphasises on the use of consent while obtaining land for mining.

Mineral Resources Development Act 1995

This Act emphasises on the expansion of the mineral resources in Australia along with judicious and prudent land management in the state of Tasmania. It also highlights the issuance of exploration and special exploration licenses, retention and production licences and mining leases from the government under this MRD Act (mrt.tas.gov.au, 2019).    

Table 1: The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999
(Source: Created by the Author)

2. Significant forms of mineralisation in Australia

Styles of

Mineralisation

Definition of style of

mineralisation

Mine Name

Geographic location of mine 

Major

Ore types

mined at

mine

Host rock/s of

ore/s from local geology

Volcanic

Hosted

Massive

Sulphide

(VHMS)

 Example of an ore deposit of metal sulphide, created by hypothermal events associated with volcanic activity in marine environments.

 Hellyer mines (https://www.nqminerals.com/hellyer/)

Tasmania, Australia

Copper, zinc, gold, lead and silver ores

Chalcolite, Chalcopyrite, Calamine and Smithsonite 

Banded Iron Formation

 A BIF consists of recurrent, thin layers of silver or black iron oxides. They are typical units of sedimentary rocks of the Precambrian age. 

 Karijini National Park

(https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/karijini)

Karijini, Western Australia

 Iron oxides

 Shales, Cherts and Dolomite

Placer Deposit

A placer deposit is an accretion of valued minerals formed by the separation of gravity from a particular source rock through the sedimentary process.  

 Moolart Well Gold Mine

(https://www.mindat.org/loc-269120.html)

 Bandya, Australia

Calaverite and Petzite

Quartz and Turbidite

 

Hydrothermal Deposit

Accretions of valuable minerals that are formed from hot waters within the fractures of the Earth’s crust

Golden Grove Mine (https://www.emrgoldengrove.com/)

Craton, Western Australia

 Zinc, Copper, Gold and Silver

Turbidite, Chalcolite, Igneous and Metamorphic

Porphyry

Copper

Deposit

These are copper deposits formed in hydrothermal solutions, instigating from capacious magma chambers below the deposit.

Olympic Dam Mine (https://www.bhp.com/our-businesses/minerals-australia/olympic-dam)

Olympic Dam, South Australia

Copper, Gold, Silver, Uranium and Molybdenum

Metamorphic and Igneous rocks

Secondary

Enrichment

The outstanding deposit formed after the removal of paltry material and the solution and redeposition of precious ore minerals.

 Boddington Mine (https://www.mining-technology.com/projects/boddington/)

Bannister, Western Australia

Hematite, Bauxite and Siderite

Sedimentary rocks

Table 2: Forms of mineralisation in Australia
(Source: Created by the Author)

3. State and Federal government legislation for mining in Queensland
Since Adani obtained legislative endorsements from the State and the Federal government, this section will deal with the provisions of mining legislations associated with mining practices in Queensland. While mining in a particular area, a company has to not only adhere to the State government legislation but must also comply with the Central statutory norms. Business.qld.gov.au (2019), states that a mining operator has to adhere to the following legislations before carrying out mining activities in Queensland:

  • 'Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act, 1999’
  • ‘Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Regulation 2017’
  • ‘Coal mining safety and health Act 1999’ and
  • ‘Coal mining safety and health Regulation, 2017.'

The provisions of these acts and regulations control the practice of mining in the area of Queensland. As per the requirements of the legislation mentioned above, a mining operation has to ensure complete safety of its workers operating in the mines. The Acts define the concepts of mining and quarrying and explain the risks associated with the mining operations. In general, the Acts and regulations in Queensland provide for the following provisions (legislation.qld.gov.au, 2019):

  • Installation of safety equipment by the mining company and protection of the health condition of its workers
  • Following a scientific approach during the mining process – one that is efficient and does not put much pressure on the mental and physical health condition of the workers (Walters et al., 2016)
  • That the mining company communicates to the workers the risks associated with mining activities
  • That the mining operator delivers to the workers the reliefs and remedies available to them in case of personal grievances or injuries
  • The mining companies must maintain a mine record, wherein the details of the management structure of the company and the individuals holding senior positions
  • Any changes in the establishment must also be recorded by the high site executive, within 7 days of such change
  • The mining company must also maintain and submit to the relevant authorities – the plan of the mine, the equipment held by it and the details of the workers so employed. This is done so that the companies are forced to maintain a healthy and efficient working condition in the company
  • The State government has the authority to issue penalties to the mining operator in case of discrepancies or infringements. This is done by the issuance of penalties, whereby the maximum penalty can be of 100 points (ilo.org, 2019)

The safety and health management system of the mines should contain the following provisions:

  • Any new mine must implement a ‘safety and health management system.'
  • Any existing mine should also develop and review its ‘safety and health management system.'
  • The senior site executive should review such health management system in the mines in a conference with the workers in the site to the extent of their exposure in the mining sites
  • The mining companies must have apt safety and health support representatives and councils

Adani had to carefully consider the frameworks developed by the state legislations before carrying out mining activities. It is evident that the government of Queensland pays adequate attention to the health and safety of the miners working in the state territory (Apoh et al., 2017). Therefore, Adani had to consider the following requirements as per the provisions of Section 89 of the ‘Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2017’ (ecolex.org, 2019):

  • The exposure of the workers to respirable dust particles and pollutants is at satisfactory levels. It must not exceed the average exposure in an 8-hour period, according to the ‘Australian Standard AS 2985’. The average exposure levels for coal dust and free silica are – 2.5mg/m3 air and 0.1mg/m3 air respectively (Statsenko et al., 2018)
  • If the shifts of the workers are longer than 8 hours, the average intake of coal dust and pollutants are not higher than what it would have been in the 8-hour period
  • The mining operator provides the employees with protective equipment, wherever applicable
  • Reviewing of the dust and pollutant control measures and framing necessary updates to the health and safety management systems

The Australian government does not adhere to the ‘Work Health and Safety’ standards in the mining industry. Instead, these standards are regulated by the Australian states and territories according to their legislative frameworks (safeworkaustralia.gov.au, 2017). For instance, there are separate mining statutory frameworks for different jurisdictions like the New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and Western and South Australia.

4. Longwall coal mining method
Longwall coal mining is a method of subversive mining of coal, whereby a long wall of coal deposits is excavated in a single slice which is generally 0.6 to 1.0 metres thick. The slice of coal that is being excavated (also known as the longwall panel) is naturally 3 to 4 kilometres long and about 300 to 400 metres wide. The longwall mining method is of two types – the advancing and the retreating longwall mining. The latter is the method where the gate roads are driven into the block limits from the main headings and are later connected to a roadway for the installation of the face equipment. In other cases, the gate roads may also be connected to a set of different roadways for the purpose of ventilation. After the installation of the face equipment, the production commences with the face receding towards the main headings from the back limits. This is done to finish at a position so as to leave the barrier pillar to defend the latter headings (undergroundcoal.com.au, 2019). Since the gate roads are long, it is usually important to drive two or more face equipment at either side of the block. The roadway that is to be used to gain access into the longwall is called the ‘main gate roadways', whereas the other sets of roadways are usually known as the ‘tailgate roadways’. The latter is sometimes used for primary admittance, but only on certain occasions.

longwall mining method

Table 3: Retreating longwall mining method
(Source: Swapan et al., 2016)

As mentioned earlier, a longwall panel is typically about 3 to 4 kilometres long and 300 to 400 metres wide. According to the overall principle, bigger longwall panel sizes are better for mining activities. This is because while cutting, typically the slowest part of each shear is at the end of the equipment face. Therefore, the wider a face is, the greater will be the availability of coal for cutting. Generally, in the case of retreating longwall mining method, the development is to be kept ahead of the producing panel (Gao et al., 2017). This is because coal transport is unable to remove the coal from the mine at the rate of which longwall can produce it. The production capacity of the longwall method is rapid, which does not allow the clearing of coal at the same rapidity. This may lead to the accumulation of coal in the mine blocking the gateways. This is why the development is to be kept ahead of the producing panel, and each leg of the transport system must have the capacity equal to, or possibly more significant than the earlier section. Also, if the development is not kept ahead of the production panel, the ventilation in the mine will be unable to handle the dust and pollutants produced – despite the existence of a drainage system.

Despite the efficiency of the longwall mining system, drawbacks in engineering do not allow its full exploitation. Some of the engineering factors that limit the production of coal from the longwall mining method are:

  • The lack of development of longwall panels efficiently thereby allowing the installation of longwall equipment at an affordable cost
  • The inefficiency of the haulage system, which is unable to clear off the production at a rate that is similar to the rate of production by the longwall system
  • The inability of the coal preparation plant (wherever applicable) to handle the production tonnage
  • Failure of the ventilation system in the mines to control the dust pollutants released. This cannot be managed even with the installation of a gas drainage system, thereby putting the safety of the workers at risk and hampering productivity
  • Lack of efficient cutting mechanisms that would reduce wastage and spillage, thereby reducing the time and efforts put in by the labourers

5. Kalgoorlie gold mining operations
The Fimiston Open Pit, previously known as the Super Pit, is located in the south-east part of Western Australia. It is currently the second-largest open-cut gold mine in Australia and is about 3.5 kilometres long, 600 metres deep and 1.5 kilometres wide. The Fimiston Open Pit is possessed by the ‘Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Pty Ltd.’ As of 2018, the mine produced about 19.5 tonnes of gold and is, therefore, one of the largest gold mines in the world by production (superpit.com.au, 2019). The mining methods used for extracting gold from the Fimiston Open Pit involves long-reach drilling and blasting. The long-reach drilling machine is used to navigate the voids in a safe manner. It allows the rig and the operator to stay firm on the ground, while the protracted drilling arm explores the void. Blasting is another method of mining in the super pit, which is done three or four times per week. The blast times depend upon the production requirements, which also regulates the number of blasts to be done in a week (McKenzie, 2016). In the Fimiston Open Pit, the engineers work in coordination with the geologists, blast and drill engineers and voids officers. The production geologists confine the area of the availability of the ore on a bench, which is mined by the blast and drill engineers.

Since the beginning of the operation, the mine has produced about 58 million tonnes of gold till date and is expected to exhaust at around 2035. The mere size and depth (about 600 metres) of the Fimiston pit requires the usage of numerous transportation equipment. The mine employs 40 haul trucks (including 36 Caterpillar 793Cs and 4 Caterpillar 793Fs), six dozers (including 4 Caterpillar D10Ts and 2 Caterpillar 854s), four face shovels, six trucks and four loaders (superpit.com.au, 2019). Each haul truck in the mine uses about $8 million of fuel every year (miningpeople.com.au, 2017). In addition to the long-range drill and hauling trucks mentioned earlier, the mine employs the use of the following mining equipment:

  • Dragline excavator – A machine used to excavate dirt and other substances from the mining area in and around the Fimiston pit. The excavators used in the mine have the capacity to remove 160 cubic yards of resources in a single scoop (cat.com, 2019)
  • Hydraulic mining shovel – This piece of equipment is used for loading the coal after they are excavated from the benches
  • Scooptram – A piece of equipment that is used to clean the runaways and loading supplies. It runs on diesel
  • Continuous miner – A sizeable rotating drum of steel used to scrape coal from the seam. It is fortified with tungsten carbide hooks

dragline excavator in mining engineering systems

Table 4: A dragline excavator at the Fimiston Open Pit
(Source: cat.com, 2019)

The mining operations in the Fimiston Open Pit has been following both open cut and underground mining methods over a long period of time. This has been because of the geological condition of the Kalgoorlie region. The underground mining in the area began in 1963, with the mechanised ‘cut and fill’ procedure. Various open pits have been excavated in the region, of which, some of the notable ones have been named the ‘Glory Hole’, ‘Sam Pearce Decline’ and the famous ‘Cassidy Shaft’. The mine has been switching from underground mining to open-pit mining mainly because of the challenging geological conditions in the area. The presence of numerous voids in the Fimiston Open Pit is what led to the popularity of the open-pit mining in the area. The mining operations in the Kalgoorlie region since the early 1900s have led to the creation of numerous voids, of which the Golden Mile mining is the most prominent, with a void of about 3,500 kilometres (superpit.com.au, 2019). The presence of such voids leads to numerous health and geological hazards, which is why the open cut method of mining is now used. Yet, it is speculated that the mine will be operational until 2035, only 16 years from now.

Conclusion
Australia is extremely rich in mineral and geological resources and is one of the largest producers of coal in the world. Even though the country follows extensive techniques to excavate them, the process of unearthing minerals is not limited to scientific prowess. Legislative norms are closely associated with mining, which has been mentioned in this report. The statutory criteria mainly aim for providing health and security benefits to the workers in the mines and their rehabilitation. Some of the most prominent mines in Australia have been listed in this report, along with their mineralisation properties. In this context, research has also been done on the Fimiston Open Pit in Australia, one of the county’s largest producers of gold. The hauling and drilling equipment used by the mine has been highlighted in this study. Mining engineering assignments are being prepared by our engineering assignment help experts from top universities which let us to provide you a reliable assignment help online service.

Reference List
Apoh, W., Wissing, K., Treasure, W. and Fardin, J., 2017. Law, land, and what lies beneath exploring mining impacts on customary law and cultural heritage protection in Ghana and Western Australia. African Identities, 15(4), pp.367-386. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14725843.2017.1319752

Business.qld.gov.au. (2019). Legislation, standards and guidelines | Business Queensland. [online] Available at: https://www.business.qld.gov.au/industries/mining-energy-water/resources/safety-health/mining/legislation-standards [Accessed 23 Jul. 2019].

Cat.com. (2019). Cat | 8750 Dragline | Caterpillar. [online] Available at: https://www.cat.com/en_IN/products/new/equipment/draglines/draglines/18370146.html [Accessed 23 Jul. 2019].

Department of the Environment and Energy. (2019). Department of the Environment and Energy. [online] Available at: https://www.environment.gov.au/epbc [Accessed 23 Jul. 2019].

Ecolex.org. (2019). Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2017.. [online] Available at https://www.ecolex.org/details/legislation/coal-mining-safety-and-health-regulation-2017-lex-faoc177012/ [Accessed 23 Jul. 2019].

Gao, Y., Liu, D., Zhang, X. and He, M., 2017. Analysis and optimization of entry stability in underground longwall mining. Sustainability, 9(11), p.2079. https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/9/11/2079

Graetz, G. and Manning, H., 2016. The politics of uranium mining in Australia. In Australia's Uranium Trade (pp. 153-180). Routledge. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781315568393/chapters/10.4324/9781315568393-14

McKenzie, C.K., 2016, September. Blasting near open pit walls. In Proceedings of the First Asia Pacific Slope Stability in Mining Conference (pp. 83-94). Australian Centre for Geomechanics. https://papers.acg.uwa.edu.au/d/1604_0.5_McKenzie/0.5_McKenzie.pdf

Undergroundcoal.com.au. (2019). Retreating Longwalls | Introduction | underground COAL . [online] Available at: http://undergroundcoal.com.au/fundamentals/07_advance-retreat_2ret.aspx [Accessed 23 Jul. 2019].

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