Collie Mine Lake District Inspection
7 September 2019 | Collie River Catchment, Western Australia
The town of Collie (population over 10,000) is the centre of the coal mining industry in Western Australia. Collie is located 250 km south of Perth, on the north-western rim of the Collie Coal Basin within the Collie River catchment. The major land uses in the catchment are coal mining, timber production, power generation and agriculture. Approximately 79% of the catchment is state forest. The recreation and nature conservation values of the forest areas are highly regarded along with the recreational opportunities provided by the Wellington Reservoir and other surface waters: including two historic pit lakes.
The Collie Coal basin covers an area of approximately 224 km2, is 27 km long and 13 km wide. The basin consists of two lobe-shaped sub-basins: the Cardiff sub-basin (115 km2) to the west; and the Premier sub-basin (74 km2) to the east; separated by a faulted basement high, known as Stockton Ridge.
Underground and open cut coal mining has taken place in the Collie basin since 1898 with a number of mining legacies resulting. Until the mid-1990s, coal mining was predominantly in the Cardiff sub-basin. In 1997 mining in the Cardiff sub-basin ceased and since then mining has taken place in the Premier sub-basin at the Muja, Ewington and Premier mines. As a result of a dispute with the government, six open cut pits were abandoned in the 1950s and 1960s, which went on to form Stockton Lake, Ewington Lake, Blue Waters, Black Diamond (A & B) and Wallsend (historically used for landfill).
Currently two mining companies, Yancoal Premier Coal Pty Ltd and Lanco Griffin Coal Pty Ltd, have active mines and a number of unrelinquished pit lakes in the Premier sub-basin. Yancoal Premier Coal Pty Ltd is currently evaluating rehabilitation and development of end uses for finished pits in the Cardiff sub-basin. Premier also seeks to relinquish Lake Kepwari which completed mining in 1997. Griffin Coal is maintaining pit lakes in the Premier sub-basin in an operational capacity, but also seeking relinquishment options that might also entail beneficial end uses.
The ACG thanks Dr Cherie McCullough, principal environmental scientist/director at Mine Lakes Consulting for leading this inspection, and freely donating her time and resources.
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Site Inspection Leader
Dr Cherie D. McCullough is director of Mine Lakes Consulting with over 20 years research and consultancy experience in environmental management issues.
Cherie has international experience and key expertise with aquatic ecological and geochemical applications in mining and the environment; in mine closure and mining impacts on waters. She is a recognised leading international expert on mine pit lake sustainability, closure planning and rehabilitation, with project experience across Australasia, Asia, and North and South America. Cherie also makes regular presentations to government and professional bodies on mine closure and has helped develop closure regulatory guidance for Western Australia, South Australia, the Commonwealth of Australia, PNG, Canada and APEC.
Cherie has authored over 100 published peer-reviewed papers and book chapters and is editor of the book “Mine Pit Lakes: Closure and Management” through the Australian Centre for Geomechanics.