Dust-busted Mt Arthur

A quick state government response to a council complaint has resulted in a poor dust management fine for BHP Billiton’s Mt Arthur coal mine.

Blair Price

While the penalty infringement notice was issued on June 27, New South Wales’ planning department only commented on it last week.

“The department’s compliance team received a complaint from Muswellbrook Shire Council on the morning of June 14,” it said.

“Within half an hour, a department officer had responded and witnessed trucks dumping overburden, at elevated levels in windy conditions, that led to dust leaving the site.”

Ultimately BHP faces a $3000 fine for not meeting air quality-related conditions of approval for the open cut operation.

The planning department said it set up a standalone compliance unit in Singleton in 2010 to oversee the Upper Hunter Valley mines.

“Taking a local approach to compliance lets us work closer with local authorities, as demonstrated in this case,” the department said.

“Our role is to listen to community concerns, conduct audits, respond to complaints, investigate potential breaches and take enforcement action where breaches are confirmed.”

The department said the Mt Arthur operation was warned over a similar incident in September, 2012.