We then assumed responsibility for all mining activities including mine planning, design and execution, drill and blast, overburden removal, coal mining services and rehabilitation, which continues to this day.
Thiess has operated Mt Owen Mine, our largest coal mining operation in New South Wales, since 1995 under successive contracts. The mine processes up to 8.6Mtpa of ROM, of which 7.8Mtpa is mined by Thiess from the Mt Owen North Pit.
Mt Owen’s deposit is complex, comprising multiple seams of coal dipping up to 45 degrees, with mined thickness between 0.4 and 11 metres. Thiess also mines to a depth of 270 metres below the surface, with the challenge of minimising truck hours and maintaining ‘mass balance’ on site to ensure enough dump space for the overburden.
To overcome these complexities, our technical team created ‘Dump Planner’ software. This allows the mine planning team to run a range of scenarios and develop a mine plan that increases plant hours and scheduling, and achieves mass balance.
In addition, the team has developed industry-leading specialised terrace mining and through-seam blasting techniques, leading to higher reserve recovery. Thiess’ environmental performance at Mt Owen has been outstanding. In 2012, we launched an industry-first study into the movement of the Spotted Tail (Tiger) quoll, which is helping our team provide sustainable solutions such as artificial habitat structures and feeding sites.