Forging ahead: New Acland stage 3

(Image source: New Hope Group) New Acland Mine.
(Image source: New Hope Group) New Acland Mine.

Containing more than 500mt of coal, the New Acland Coal Mine is located 35km northwest of Toowoomba in Queensland. It is operated by New Acland Coal (NAC), a subsidiary of New Hope Group.

New Hope Group purchased the mine in 1999 and for the past 25 years the mine has economically contributed to the Darling Downs region.

Operations at New Acland began in 2002 with the mine officially opening in March 2003 by then Queensland Premier Peter Beattie. It expanded to stage two in 2005 and by 2012 the mine produced 5.09mtpa of thermal coal.

New Acland Stage Three

For the past 17 years, New Hope has been advocating and fighting for the progression of stage three work and in October 2022, the Queensland Government approved New Acland Stage 3.

The stage three project expands the existing New Acland coal mine to produce up to 5mtpa of coal over a mine life of 12 years and involves the development of three new pits within the Manning Vale and Willeroo resource areas.

Working in partnership with local contractors and suppliers – where possible – New Acland Coal will build a materials handling facility, train load out facility, rail lines, roads, dams and bridges. Teams will also be needed to supervise demolition and rehabilitation projects on site.

Since its approval, New Acland Mine Stage 3 has progressed rapidly with the workforce growing from 20 employees to more than 150 in the past 18 months.

(Image source: New Hope Group) New Acland mine general manager Dave O’Dwyer.
(Image source: New Hope Group) New Acland mine general manager Dave O’Dwyer.

“Stage 3 is constantly evolving, with our people currently prioritising coal extraction from Manning Vale East Pit,” New Acland mine general manager Dave O’Dwyer said.

Work is also underway on the 13.5km Lagoon Creek Conservation Zone which will see more than 3000 trees planted over the next 10 years.

Running through the New Acland Mine, the Lagoon Creek Conservation Zone will see the vegetation corridor along Lagoon Creek widened to more than 100m, enhancing animal and plant biodiversity.

Lagoon Creek will complement rehabilitation outcomes from previously mined areas and strengthen New Hope’s commitment to environmental sustainability and progressive rehabilitation practices.

“In total, more than 135ha of land alongside Lagoon Creek will be prioritised and planted with native vegetation, including eucalyptus, paper bark and other refuge trees, designed to significantly boost the local koala population,” Mr O’Dwyer said.

“New Acland Mine is home to one of Australia’s most ambitious and practical land management programs. Established more than 17 years ago, the progressive rehabilitation program returns mined land to agricultural and conservation uses while contributing to the region’s agribusiness industry.

“To date, more than 740ha of land has been rehabilitated. Of this, 349ha has been formally approved as progressively rehabilitated mined land by the Queensland Government.”

First Coal

Sixteen years in the making, first coal from New Acland Stage 3 was achieved in September 2023 with this marking an important milestone for the company.

(Image source: New Hope Group) First coal produced from New Acland.
(Image source: New Hope Group) First coal produced from New Acland.

“It was a breakthrough moment for the entire team, including our people and the local community, who stood beside New Hope Group as we secured the necessary approvals for stage three from the Queensland Government,” Mr O’Dwyer said.

“Achieving first coal was a surreal moment and triggered a significant ramp-up on site and a wave of additional milestones, including more job opportunities, first washed coal via the onsite coal handling and processing plant and the first shipment of coal from New Acland Mine to the Port of Brisbane in more than two years.”

Future Operations

New Acland Mine Stage 3 will progress from the Manning Vale East pit to the Willeroo pit, then the Manning Vale West pit, however, the mining footprint will remain relatively small due to New Hope’s rehabilitation program.

As production increases from stage three, New Hope’s workforce will more than double in size to 400 full time roles over the next two years.