Beltana mine

From Global Energy Monitor

Beltana mine was an underground coal mine 18 kilometres south west of Singleton in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. [1] The mine is part of the Bulga Coal complex, an associated group of underground and open cut coal mines run by Bulga Coal Management. All of the underground mines within the Bulga Complex had ceased operating by May 2018, including Beltana.

Beltana opened in 2003 and operated as a longwall mining operation. The mining operation had approval to mine coal from four nearby coal seams: Whybrow, Blakefield, Glen Munro and Woodlands Hill.[2]


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The Bulga Coal complex includes an open cut mine, a Coal Handling and Preparation Plant and underground mines, such as Beltana. Each year, the overall complex produces approximately 12 million tonnes of semi soft coking coal and thermal coal, which is then taken by rail to the Port of Newcastle to be exported to China and Japan. [3]

Open cut mining within the Bulga Coal complex commenced in 1982, but underground mining did not begin until 1992.[3] Throughout its time of operation, Beltana, and the other underground mines within the Bulga Coal complex, used a retreat longwall operation. [4] [5] This enabled about 80% of the coal to be removed from the target seam, according to Bulga Coal’s website.

Underground mining began at South Bulga in 1992. Company documents and websites give inconsistent dates for when this underground mining operation moved to the Beltana mine. Glencore’s Bulga Coal website states that underground mining moved to Beltana in 2001, while the same company’s fast facts sheet notes that “the Beltana Underground commenced in the Whybrow (coal) seam in 2003.”[4] Similarly, it is unclear when mining at Beltana officially ceased. Glencore’s Bulga Coal website states that underground mining moved from Beltana to Blakefield South in 2008, yet the fast fact sheet notes the Beltana Underground finished with the Whybrow coal seam in 2011.

The decision to cease underground mining in 2018 was relatively quiet. Bulga Underground Operations’ 2018 Mining Operation Plan stated that the decision to put underground mining on hold was “due to the current market conditions.” [6]The future of the underground mines are not decided. The company stated in an April 2018 newsletter that “As much as there are currently no plans to recommence underground mining, we are going to retain all of our approvals to support any future potential underground mining.”[7]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Bulga Coal Management (BCM) [5]
  • Parent Company: Glencore [5]
  • Location: 18 kilometres south west of Singleton in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales [1]
  • GPS Coordinates: -32.6868397982, 151.1099843107 (exact)
  • Status: All underground mining within the Bulga complex, including at Beltana, had ceased by 2018 [4]
  • Production Capacity: 7-8 mtpa [1] [8]
  • Total Resource:
  • Mineable Reserves:
  • Coal type: Thermal [1]
  • Mine Size:
  • Mine Type: Underground [4]
  • Start Year: 2003 [1]
  • Source of Financing:


On its website Xstrata Coal states that the Beltana Operations form part of the Bulga Complex and are managed by Bulga Coal Management Pty Limited on behalf of the Bulga Joint Venture (BJV). The BJV ownership comprises Saxonvale Coal Pty Limited which holds an 87.5% share with the remaining 12.5% held by Nippon Steel Australia Pty Limited. Saxonvale Coal Pty Limited is a 100% owned by Oakbridge Pty Limited of which Enex Oakbridge Pty Limited owns 78%. Glencore owns 100% of Enex Oakbridge Pty Limited.[5]

Fire at Blakefield South

In early January 2011, it was reported that a fire had broken out in the Blakefield South mine necessitating the evacuation of 55 miners. Company spokesman, James Rickards, told the ABC that "we've yet to determine how that fire has occurred, whether it's spontaneous combustion, etcetera."[9] Bloomberg reported that the fire had broken out at approximately 7.30pm on Wednesday January 5, 2011. The mine produces 7.5 million tonnes per annum.[10]

Rickards told ABC News that the company had "commenced the introduction of inert nitrogen into the affected area at midnight last night to try to starve the fire of oxygen. Now we've implemented gas monitoring and any decisions regarding re-entry to that underground environment or how long it may take to extinguish the fire will be based on that gas monitoring."[11] In a company statement Rickards stated that "we are not able to predict how long it may take to put the fire out ... (We) will be relying upon our monitoring results to determine when the underground environment may be safe to re-enter."[12]

The company later stated that the fire was extinguished over the weekend, several days after the first first broke out.[13] Rickards indicated that the fire would cost the company "millions" and that the mine could be closed for months before it was reopened.[14]

While most news reports referred to company media statements issued to media outlets, neither the parent company nor its coal subsidiary, Xstrata Coal, have any of the media statements archived on their websites.[15][16]

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Mark Freeman, Investigator, [ "Summary Investigation Report: Serious injury involving longwall service cassettes at the Beltana Mine on 21 August 2008"], State of New South Wales through NSW Department of Industry and Investment, May 2010
  2. "Beltana Information", Mining Atlas website, accessed February 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "​Welcome to Bulga Coal", Glencore: Bulga Coal, accessed February 2020
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Mining: Overview", Glencore: Bulga Coal, accessed February 2020
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Bulga Coal: Glencore: Fast Facts", Glencore: Bulga Coal, accessed February 2020
  6. "​Bulga Underground Operations - Mining Operation Plan", SLR Consulting Australia Pty Ltd, May 29, 2018
  7. Community Newsletter, "26 years of underground mining at Bulga", Glencore: Bulga Coal, April 2018
  8. "About Beltana", Xstrata Coal, Oct. 2010
  9. "All safe as fire breaks out in NSW coalmine", ABC News, January 6, 2011.
  10. Elisabeth Behrmann, "Xstrata Shuts Coal Mine in Australia After Fire; Workers Safe", Bloomberg, January 6, 2011.
  11. "Xstrata investigates mine fire", ABC News, January 7, 2011.
  12. "Xstrata not sure how long fire will burn", AAP, January 07, 2011.
  13. Esmarie Swanepoel, "Xstrata says fire at NSW mine extinguished",, January 9, 2011‎.
  14. "Gas monitoring continues after Hunter mine fire", ABC News, January 11, 2011.
  15. Xstrata, "2011 News Archives", Xstrata website, accessed January 2011.
  16. Xstrata Coal, "Press releases", Xstrata Coal website, accessed January 2011.

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