Mining company cancels coal trucking program

WHILE one regional mining company yesterday met with Boggabri residents to discuss temporary coal-trucking options through their town, another cancelled its trial trucking program which began just three days ago.

The companies’ alternative coal trucking came after a train derailment near Boggabri three weeks ago, which left the rail line out of action until at least Christmas. 

Idemitsu Australia Resources and Whitehaven Coal Limited are two of the North West’s biggest coal producers, with operations in and around the Narrabri and Boggabri districts, and use the northern Mungindi to Werris Creek line to transport their coal to port. During the rail repairs, they have organised for trucking from their mines to the Gunnedah coal-handling and processing plant.

Idemitsu representatives met Boggabri residents, some of whom live along the proposed Kamilaroi Highway route, yesterday to seek community input on its short-term, temporary road haulage solution.

The company says the trucking, which has not yet begun, is necessary to minimise the impact on the operation of its Boggabri Coal Mine. 

Idemitsu applied for its trucking program through state and local government authorities and expects the trucks to begin rolling within the next couple of weeks.

Idemitsu said the road haulage would end when the rail line was fully operational. 

Whitehaven Coal had already begun its trial trucking program and suspended it yesterday, after finding there were too many risk factors involved.

The trial trucking program was taking place between its Narrabri mine and the Gunnedah coal plant and began on Tuesday.

It was designed to test procedures before a larger-scale trucking program, under assessment by the government, got under way.

Whitehaven had previously said operations at its mine would have to stop unless coal was forwarded by truck.

As part of the trial, seven and 11 covered coal trucks were travelling along the Kamilaroi Highway.

Whitehaven managing director Tony Haggarty said personnel were monitoring the trial at a number of points along the route, including loading and unloading, and were travelling frequently to determine any associated risks.

“While we are pleased with the level of professionalism shown by our haulage contractor, we believe the risks associated with the extra traffic and interaction with other heavy vehicles are unacceptable at this stage,” Mr Haggarty said.

He said the trucks would not return to the road unless the company was comfortable the risks could be managed.

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