Chain Valley Mine

From Global Energy Monitor

Chain Valley colliery is an underground thermal coal mine in New South Wales that is permitted to extract up to 2.1 million tonnes of coal per year. In 2019, the mine extracted 792,950 tonnes.[1]


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Underground mining has occurred at the Chain Valley colliery since 1962; historically, underground mining was undertaken using the bord and pillar method; however in September 2011 miniwall mining was introduced. Throughout the mine’s life, coal has been extracted from three seams: the Wallarah Seam, the Great Northern Seam and the Fassifern Seam. Current mining activities are limited to the Fassifern Seam.[2]

Additionally, throughout the mine’s life, it has always provided coal to the nearby Vale Point power station. In addition to the power station, coal from Chain Valley colliery is sent to Port Waratah for export.[3]

Chain Valley colliery’s workforce peaked in the mid-1980s with 380 personnel; a 2015 annual review noted that the workforce was down to 155 personnel.[2]

In 2001, the owner of the Chain Valley Colliery was the Wallarah Coal Joint Venture, a joint venture between Billiton Coal Australia Limited and the Japanese company Nissho Iwai, or the Sojitz Corporation.[4] Shortly after, LakeCoal acquired BHP Billiton’s 80% share. In November 2009, LDO Coal Pty Limited purchased LakeCoal Pty Limited, and in March 2011 LDO Coal acquired the remaining 20% of interest in the Chain Valley Colliery.[2]

In 2018, the colliery began facing serious financial struggles and collapsed into administration.[5] The colliery had two fixed-price contracts to supply coal to Delta annually to meet half Vales Point's coal needs. But according to a Newcastle Herald article, “the contracts, with their considerably lower than market value price per tonne, were "a significant burden" to the colliery.”[6]

As a result, Delta Coal bought the mine in March 2019.[3]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Great Southern Energy Pty Ltd[1]
  • Parent Company: Delta Coal[1]
  • Location: Located beneath south Lake Macquarie in New South Wales, adjacent to the Vales Point Power station and 60 kilometres from Newcastle.[7]
  • GPS Coordinates: -33.163056, 151.55000
  • Status: Operating[6]
  • Production Capacity: 792,950 tonnes (in 2019)[1]
  • Total Resource:
  • Mineable Reserves: 19.5 Mt (as of 2014)[8]
  • Coal type: thermal[1]
  • Mine Size: 2200 ha[8]
  • Mine Type: underground[7]
  • Start Year: 1962[8]
  • Source of Financing:

Mine expansion and citizen backlash

In 2013, LakeCoal applied for an expansion on the mine’s annual production capacity and lifetime. It would increase production from 1.2 mtpa to 1.5 mtpa and add 14 years to the mine’s lifetime, until 2027.[1]

Many citizens who lived nearby expressed displeasure with the expansion project, and felt as if the company was trying to buy them off. A 2015 article in The Daily Telegraph reported that LakeCoal was offering at least $750,000 towards community projects in the nearby suburbs of Summerland Point, Gwandalan, Chain Valley Bay and Mannering Park.[9]

“I am very angry that companies are going to the community, essentially bribing them to say it’s OK to support an industry that has potentially huge health and environmental impacts,” said Mannering Park resident and former Greens councillor Sue Wynn in the article.[9]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

Coal in Australia


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Katie Weekes, "CHAIN VALLEY COLLIERY: Annual Review 2019," "Delta Coal," May 15, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Annual Review 2015," "LakeCoal," April 30, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "INDEPENDENT ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT 2019: Chain Valley Colliery," "SLR," June 2019.
  4. PJ HAYES, "TOWARDS HIGH PRODUCTIVITY UNDER A CLAYSTONE ROOF," "Coal Opertators’ Geotechnology Colloquium," February 15, 2001.
  5. Angela Macdonald-Smith, "NSW coal mine collapses into insolvency as Trevor St Baker circles," Financial Review," October 3, 2018.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Joanne McCarthy, "Chain Valley Colliery was "distressed" for a number of years until its swift collapse," "Newcastle Herald," April 20, 2019.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "CHAIN VALLEY," "MiningLink," accessed June 2020.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Chain Valley Colliery," "Australian Government: Bioregional Assessment,"accessed June 2020.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Geraldine Cardozo, "Chain Valley Bay residents ‘being bought’ on coal," "The Daily Telegraph," March 18, 2015.