Integra to be sentenced over rock height breach

VALE’S Integra mine in NSW faces sentencing next month after pleading guilty in the land and environment court to constructing a waste rock dump that exceeded the approved height by up to 10m.
Integra to be sentenced over rock height breach Integra to be sentenced over rock height breach Integra to be sentenced over rock height breach Integra to be sentenced over rock height breach Integra to be sentenced over rock height breach

Integra Underground, courtesy Vale.

Lou Caruana

Integra has had several run-ins with the state government over safety and environmental concerns. In August it was fined $3000 for a blast that exceeded pressure limits.

The excessive height of the waste dump is a serious matter because of its proximity to rural and residential areas in the Hunter Valley.

“The court action arises from a resident complaint to the department in August 2011, alleging that the waste rock emplacement for the Integra North open cut project appeared higher than described in the project’s environmental assessment,” said the NSW department of planning.

“A department investigation confirmed the concerns.”

Integra was in the NSW government’s bad books in July 2011, when the newly appointed minister for resources Chris Hartcher ordered that the mine be shut after excessive levels of methane were discovered.

In March, the department of planning cleared Vale’s proposed extension of Integra despite earlier problems with safety at the underground mine.

The department has sought to proactively manage environmental concerns over coal mining in the Hunter Valley by holding an auditing consultants’ meeting in Newcastle.

The meeting focused on the quality of independent environmental audits carried out on coal mines in the Upper Hunter.

“Independent environmental audits are required, usually every three years, as part of coal mine approvals to independently assess the mine’s compliance with the approval and recommend ways to improve environmental performance,” it said.

“The department raised concerns that audits often contain insufficient detail and do not always recommend actions for continual improvement.”

A follow-up workshop for the Upper Hunter coal mines, hosted by the NSW Minerals Council, was held in Singleton early in September.

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