Berrima (Medway) Colliery
The Berrima (Medway) coal mine is a retired coal mine located in the village of Medway in New South Wales. It operated until 2013 and has been seeking official closure from the NSW state government since 2014.
The Berrima (Medway) Colliery operated continuously from 1926 until 2013. The primary focus of the mine was to supply coal to the nearby Boral owned Berrima Cement Works kiln. The colliery included the underground mine, above-ground facilities, and a coal stockpiling site at Loch Catherine.
Medway was thought to be the smallest commercial coal mine in Australia when it closed. It only had about 40 employees, and though it had the capacity to produce 500,000 tonnes of coal a year, it was producing a little more than 200,000 tonnes at the time of its closure.
In 2013, Boral announced the mine would be moving into care and maintenance mode. In 2014, Boral announced they were seeking approval from the NSW State Government to permanently close the site. They created a Final Closure Plan (FCP), which gave guidance on the sealing of mine entries, removing any surface mine equipment and infrastructure, and rehabilitating of above-ground parts of the site.
As of 2017, the FCP remains under the assessment of the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.
This process of officially and formally closing a mine does not occur frequently in New South Wales. In their fact sheet about the closure of the Berrima Colliery, Boral notes “while mining is a key part of the Australian economy, not many underground coal mines in NSW have undergone a formal mine closure. Boral recognises the rare nature of this process and continues to undertake significant work to ensure the Berrima mine closure reflects a ‘best practice model’ approach, informed by scientific data and a panel of leading experts.”
- Sponsor: Delta Mining
- Parent Company: Boral Ltd
- Location: In the village of Medway, 8 km west of New Berrima in the Southern Coalfield of the geological Sydney Basin
- GPS Coordinates: -34.485688, 150.2657686 (exact)
- Status: Boral Ltd applied to permanently close the mine in 2014
- Production Capacity: between 125,000 and 460,000 tonnes per annum
- Total Resource:
- Mineable Reserves:
- Coal type: black coal
- Mine Size:
- Mine Type: underground bord and pillar
- Start Year: 1926
- Source of Financing:
Community members worried mine pollutes river
In 2013, a Southern Highlands community group took Boral to court in an attempt to stop a proposal that would extend the mine’s life for eight more years. The community group said they had concerns about the environmental impacts the expansion would have on groundwater, biodiversity, and the Wingecarribee River, which is in Sydney’s drinking water catchment.
When the Hume mine was proposed to be built near Berrima Colliery in 2017, community complaints surfaced once again regarding the water quality of the Wingecarribee River. Groundwater runs through the remnants of the Berrima Mine and then enters this river.
In 2017, Dr. Ian Wright from Western Sydney University was quoted in a Southern Highland News saying “The impact on the Wingecarribee River biodiversity down-stream of the [Berrima] mine is greater than has been observed in mine drainage from any other Australian coal mine and is very high on an international comparison.” His findings indicated high concentrations of manganese, zinc and nickel in the mine’s drainage water.
In 2018, Boral announced water quality had improved significantly due to the installation of an interim underground trial treatment system.
- "(Former) Medway Colliery", Boral website, accessed May 2020.
- " Berrima Colliery: Continued Operations: ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT - Volume 1", EMGA & Mitchell McLennan, May 2011.
- "Berrima Colliery Fact Sheet", Boral website, accessed May 2020.
- "BERRIMA", MiningLink, accessed May 2020.
- Resource Assessment for the Sydney Basin bioregion, Australian Government website, accessed May 2020.
- "Berrima mine expansion may go back before the Court", NSW Environmental Defenders Office, 2 December 2013
- "CFSH submission highlights Berrima Colliery pollution", Southern Highland News, 22 August 2017.
- "Boral says installation of interim underground trial treatment system at Berrima Colliery has improved water quality", Southern Highland News, 29 October 2018.