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Warwick Combined Probus Club Outing

The well planned tour became a mystery as we ignored the GPS and followed the road signs near Leyburn.  The planned route traversed the Leyburn Millmerran road, but the sign directed us to Millmerran via Pittsworth.  The diversion took us through prime agricultural country some of which is subject to mining licences.


We enjoyed morning tea in Apex park before travelling to the Commodore Coal Mine via the Inglewood Road.  Downer Project Manager for the site, Clem Baldwin, joined the coach for a tour of the mine site. 

The open cut mine is operated on strip mining principles where the seam is mined in strips, with the overburden and waste transferred from the current strip to an exhausted pit. 


At the first site visited top soil had been removed, and one level of overburden was being relocated.  This would be followed by another excavation to expose the seam.  3 Dump Trucks were running between the excavator and dump site, and kept the excavator and the spreader occupied.  Three scoops of overburden loaded more than 100 tonnes for each truckload.


At the second site the coal seam was exposed, and mining was under way.  The seam had been blasted, a dozer was moving the ore, and a loader was filling a constant stream of trucks for the journey to the hopper and conveyor belt for delivery to the Power station on the neighbouring property.  The steaming coal is of poor quality.  Samples passed through the bus clearly showed imperfections (36%) which became fly ash or bottom ash in the furnaces at the power station. 

The final stop was at the hopper where we watched a load of ore being tipped into the crusher for crushing before being transferred by a conveyor belt to the adjoining power station which is the only customer for the coal.


Strict dust, noise and blasting restrictions are observed in the mining operations, and the land form must be capable of supporting long-term primary industries such as grazing.  Mine water runoff is separated from clean water and is reused in dust suppression.

At the Power station John Rogers joined the coach for a drive through some of the site to view the generating plant, and the stockpiles.  They have a reserve stockpile of 100,000 tonnes of coal to cover interruptions to supply of coal direct from the mine.  Coal is crushed to a powder and blown into the furnaces.  Fly ash is collected in the exhaust, while bottom ash is recovered under the furnaces. The ash is returned to the mine site for fill, or sold for value adding in other industries.


Tarong power station was established ahead of this station for political reasons.  The development of technology between the initial planning and the construction led to an extremely efficient and environmentally friendly station which provides relatively cheap power to the National grid. 

The Millmerran Mill Inn Tavern catered with more than adequate meals efficiently served, before we departed for a drive past the murals which depict the dairy industry, progress in transport, swimming costumes through the years, and the water supply. 

At Wellcamp airport, we queued for the security check, with some being tested for drugs and explosives.  Devonshire tea was served before Sara Hales talked of the history and expectations of the airport. Sara is responsible for developing the international freight element of the company operations.  The weekly flight to Honk Kong regularly collects more than one third of its cargo at the airport and management is optimistic that this will quickly grow.