The Queensland mega-mining town that never eventuated
The following quote from 1983 provides an insight into town planning considerations for a proposed coal mining town in the Central Highlands of Queensland.
“Despite their growth rates, the great majority of these mining towns are unlikely to have the economic and social vitality of normal rural centres with similar populations. They are not much more than dormitory settlements, essentially suburbs without cities…For example, better roads could have made it quite feasible to amalgamate Moranbah and Dysart into a single town of some 20,000 to 25,000 people.” Source: Dr. Primod Sharma, University of Queensland, 1983.
We now know that Moranbah and to a lesser extent, Dysart have become important service hubs for a range of primary and secondary industries. Currently, both are more than just dormitory towns that service the mining industry and will most likely remain there for some time after coal mining has been and gone albeit somewhat smaller and less prosperous than in the past.
Positioning a mining town equidistantly between the proposed coal mines of Goonyella and Peak Downs appears to have made good sense, especially when the town was in close proximity to the Peak Downs Highway which already connected the coastal city of Mackay with the regional township of Clermont.
With the Utah Development Company (Utah) planning to develop further mines to the south of Peak Downs, commute distances from Moranbah would exceed 100km if there were no other towns in the region. A Utah feasibility study used a similar approach for Saraji and Norwich Park mines with the proposed town of Dysart being 25km north of Norwich Park and 25km south of Saraji with the Peak Downs mine being 50km north of Dysart, Moranbah a further 42km and Goonyella being another 27km. From end to end, the proposed chain of open-cut strip mines would ultimately end up being over 100km in length.
Using current population data (Census, 2016), Moranbah currently has 8,700 residents and Dysart 3,000. The largest theoretical population for a ‘mega’ mining town within the bounds of this section of the Isaac Regional Council boundary is 11,700 which is somewhat less than Dr. Sharma’s estimate of 20,000 to 25,000 residents even if the towns of Middlemount (pop. 1,800) and Tieri (pop. 1,100) were included. A study to assess the possible amalgamation of Dysart, Middlemount and Tieri is a separate topic in itself. In the pioneering days, mining township design was also based on the assumption that they were ‘one company’ towns so this was a further blow to the mega-mining town approach. e.g. Moranbah and Dysart (Utah/BHP/BMA) Middlemount (Capcoal) and Tieri (MIM/Xstrata).
Using a combination of assumptions from Dr. Sharma (above) and the Australian Census (2016) data, a single township in the region would, in theory, be located just south of Peak Downs mine, have a population of 11,700 residents (similar in size to the town of Emerald (pop. 13,500)) with mine workers commuting up to 70km to/from work on a regular basis.
From a commuting perspective, a centrally located mining town could result in better roads however, travel time savings would be minimal due to public highway speed restrictions.
Over time, a number of mines have opened within the Isaac Region of the central highlands, especially around Moranbah. On occasions, the development plans of mining companies weren’t well known or understood by other mining entities with little collaboration. Most worked under the assumption that development infrastructure costs were not shared facilities. This often led to less than optimal development outcomes for mines, townships and major infrastructure such as roads, railways, dams, and electricity reticulation.
The Central Highlands mega-mining town never came to fruition and there appears to be sound reasons for this. In hindsight, the distances between mines were just too great. A centralised approach inevitably resulting in winners and losers especially when it came to commuting long distances to and from work on a regular basis.
Author: John Hives
The board of Xenith is pleased to announce that Mark Gregory has officially joined as a Non-Executive Director.
Mark will bring new set of skills to Xenith, and will further assist us to deliver our strategic plans.
Mark has a Bachelor of Business (accounting) and is accredited CPA.
Mark has had a wide ranging career in Mining, Mining Services, Property and Media businesses at CEO and Director levels, within both publicly listed and private corporate environments.
We welcome Mark to the Xenith team.
The township of Moranbah in Queensland’s Central Highlands is now 50 years old.
19 November 2019
It is half a century since the initial Moranbah township feasibility study commenced so Moranbah has reached a major milestone. The following extract from the Moranbah Township Feasibility Study of October 1969 provides a brief insight into Moranbah’s humble beginnings as a ‘frontier town’.
Xenith was pleased to assist Bounty Mining with their Life of Mine Planning and JORC Resource and Reserve estimates for the Cook Mine.
With these studies completed in July 2019, Bounty have been able to plan for an increase in production rate using the Place Change Bord and Pillar mining method. (more…)
Xenith’s Managing Director Troy Turner was interviewed by The Australian newspaper.
The article attached was included in a 10 page special report.
The special report was focussed on the significant contribution the Australian coal industry is making in regional Australia, as well as State and Federal governments with taxes and royalties.
After 13 years of service Ross Haupt, founding Director and well renowned Mining Engineer in the resources industry has stepped down as an employee of Xenith to pursue the life of the semi-retired, which will undoubtedly include more family time, travelling and of course, fishing! (more…)
Xenith continues to assist our clients with Geological modelling and Resource estimates in accordance with JORC code
Recent work for Bowen Coking Coal and Whitehaven Coal:
Bowen Coking Coal
Highlights for the Isaac River project near Moranbah
- Maiden Resource estimate of 5.3Mt for the Leichhardt seam of which 4.2Mt is classified as Indicated, and 1.1 Mt as Inferred
- The entire Indicated Resource estimate is based on open cut assumptions
- Exploration target identified for the Leichhardt Lower, Vermont and Girrah seams
Highlights for the Winchester South project near Moranbah
- Following the receipt of all the data from the previous owners, Whitehaven Coal Limited engaged Xenith Consulting Pty Ltd to generate a Coal Resource Estimate in accordance with the JORC Code 2012, for the Winchester South Project.
- The project is contained within the tenement MDL 183, which is located approximately 30 kilometres south-east of Moranbah, near the main mining precinct of the Bowen Basin.
- Several drilling programmes have been conducted over the tenement (~1,250 holes) by the previous owners over a period from the early 1980’s until 2014. The drilling was supported by several 2D seismic lines (~60 kilometres), and extensive coal quality testing providing sufficient data for a robust geological model of the deposit.
- The modelled seams are in the Rangal and Fort Cooper Coal Measures which sit stratigraphically above the Moranbah Coal Measures within the Bowen Basin. Three seams have been modelled and then estimated for the JORC Resources – Leichhardt, Vermont Upper and Vermont Middle/Lower.
- Coal Resources now total 530Mt, comprising 130Mt in the Measured Category, 300Mt in the Indicated Category and 100Mt in the Inferred Category.
In February, Xenith was named the 2018 Australia’s Mining Monthly Mining Consultant of the Year. This was thanks to the substantial efforts of our Hunter Valley Manager, David Lennard. The judging panel cited that it was David’s commitment to not only work as a consultant but to provide training and mentoring to clients and colleagues that stood out.
On 15 May, Rebecca Jackson, Principal Geologist (Singleton Office) was presented with this award at the Future of Mining conference in Sydney by Nathan Wayne, Sales Director – Aspermont Media.
As we have done in previous years, Xenith again entered a team in the Corporate Games in the Soccer 6’s Men 30+. On the last Sunday in April, we played a number of 30 minute pool games to achieve a ranking. After this our team were ranked 3rd and advanced to the Elimination Tournament to play the 6th team. A winning performance meant the team then had to play the team ranked in second. We also won this games so progressed to the Final. The two finalists were evenly matched and after an exhausting game, the full time score was still Nil all (0-0). The game went to a penalty shootout and unfortunately that’s where we lost 3-2. All our players put in a big effort but on the day, after five games in quick succession it just wasn’t quite enough but we are very proud of the teams effort.
Queensland Government to introduce new Financial Assurance framework and progressive rehabilitation requirements – are you ready?
In February 2018, following various reviews and extensive consultation, the Queensland Government introduced the Minerals and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Bill 2018. The Bill provides for significant changes to the financial assurances framework and amendment to the Environmental Protection Act (EP Act) to implement rehabilitation reforms including progressive rehabilitation and closure plans. Recent cases of resource companies unable to complete their rehabilitation activities have highlighted to the Government issues with the financial assurance framework.
Xenith Named 2018 Australia’s Mining Monthly Mining Consultant of the Year
Xenith has been named 2018 Mining Consultant of the Year thanks to the efforts of their Hunter Valley Office Manager, David Lennard. The judging panel cited that it was David’s efforts to not only work as a consultant but to also provide training and mentoring to clients and colleagues that stood out.
Xenith’s Managing Director, Ken Hill has said “Xenith are pleased to have won this award, the recognition of Xenith’s ability to work with our clients and partners to generate successful outcomes is hugely rewarding. We thank Dave for his significant contributions to building the Xenith brand and delivering value to our clients”.
Through David’s leadership, Xenith have been delivering outstanding value to clients including Yancoal, Glencore, Batchfire and Bengalla Mining Company. David has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to significantly increase the value of client projects over his years in the industry.
A Safer – Quicker – Cost Effective Solution to your site requirements.
Xenith’s experienced and highly motivated UAV pilots are using advanced technology and software to capture survey-accurate data and images for your site requirements. The team is CASA certified and operate under our ReOC (Remote Pilot Operators Certificate) utilising the latest PPK (Post Processing Kinetics) to achieve survey-level accuracy across mine sites, exploration areas, quarries and stockpiles.