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NOVEMBER 2015 | Marguerite McNeill
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A PROPOSED change in mining practices by Sibelco Australia could extend the life of the lime works at Mole Creek by 12 years giving it a life expectancy of 30 more years.
Currently the pit base of the mine is at the 200m level, with one more level to be retrieved before works stop at the required stage of 10m above the river level.
The proposal would see excavation works at the mine move closer to the northern boundary of the mine that currently sits 50m above the Mersey River.
About 40m would be mined from the existing limestone wall leaving a 10m high solid limestone buffer about 50 metres from the river edge.
Operations Manager Leon Porter said that the economic and social benefits of the operation would be increased with site being mined progressively over 30 years.
The process would also result in a user friendly area in the final landform.
The work would involve progressively cutting the benches in 3 metre steps, in controlled explosions to limit the rock fall, until it reached the standard 10 metre level.
Mr Porter said that although working in 3m stages was more costly, it was a safer option that would limit environmental impact.
And with a greater usage of lower grade materials, the mine could have a total life span of around 70 years by the time operations at the site ceased.
A side bonus of the project would be the chance to clear large rocks from the river that have been displaced during past mining activities.
The work would also include rehabilitating the area with native vegetation.
In order to dispel any concerns about the proposal Sibelco hosted a consultative meeting last month to discuss the planned changes at the mining site with the local community and other interested user groups such as anglers and kayakers.
Approval from the appropriate Government bodies is also being sought.
Sibelco employs 29 people on-site as well as utilising contractors for freight and other services.
Boasting the only kiln and hydration plant for lime in Tasmania, the site produces about 100,000 tonnes a years of high quality lime and limestone products that is marketed almost entirely within the state.
Tasmanian farmers and industry have reaped the benefit of lime mined at Mole Creek for more than 40 years.
Though hidden from view and unobtrusive in its operation, the Mole Creek Limestone Mine returns about $5million a year to the Tasmanian economy.
Mine meets the people
THERE WAS a positive vibe when Sibelco Australia hosted a community meeting to discuss proposed changes at the Mole Creek limestone 0peration last month.
Around 50 people including local residents, farmers and business people, representatives from Meander Valley Council, the Environmental Protection Agency and Mineral Resources Tasmania met with Sibelco senior management staff to learn more about the plans and to discuss any concerns.
The discussions and a display of digital images of the proposed works gave attendees a better understanding of the proposed changes and the benefits to the local area.
Operations Manager Leon Porter welcomed the community support that had fielded some good questions.
A small group concerned about the hydrology of the area has been invited to go on site to examine the proposals in more detail.
[udesign_icon_font name="fa fa-camera" color="#000000"] Mike Moores