Similar mining methods are employed across the Mt Owen Complex. Mining is currently carried out by large excavators and haul trucks supported by ancillary equipment including water carts, dozers, graders, fuel and service carts, loaders and drills.
The sequence of mining involves clearing of vegetation and topsoil, drilling and blasting of overburden, followed by the excavation and haulage of overburden from a series of sequential mining blocks to the emplacement areas (see Figure left). The coal that is uncovered is then hauled to the Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP) for processing. The clean coal is conveyed to the product stockpile before being transported by rail for approximately 120 kilometres to the port of Newcastle for export.
Blasting is currently restricted to the hours of 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) and 9.00 am to 6.00 pm daylight saving time (DST) Monday to Saturday. Blasting is restricted during adverse meteorological conditions to minimize potential impacts on private neighbouring residents. Blasted overburden is excavated in a series of horizontal 5-m benches (lifts) and loaded into rear dump trucks for transportation to the overburden emplacement areas. In-pit dumping of overburden is optimized where ever possible. Material that cannot be accommodated in-pit is hauled to the ex-pit emplacement areas.
Exposed coal is mined by excavators into rear dump trucks for transportation, via internal haul roads to the Run of Mine (ROM) coal receival point adjacent to the CHPP. As the Mt Owen Complex is designed to operate on a 'just-in-time' basis, the large majority of the ROM coal is directly fed to the CHPP without stockpiling.