Newcastle University research shows nearly 65 per cent of the Hunter Valley floor taken up by mining leases

NEARLY 65 per cent of the Hunter Valley floor between Broke and Muswellbrook is taken up by mining leases, according to research from the University of Newcastle.

The research, done exclusively for the Newcastle Herald's Power and the Passion series, was based on an assessment of images from NASA's Landsat 8 satellite and Geoscience Australia from May 2020.

Cartographer Olivier Rey Lescure said of the 2000 square kilometres comprising the Hunter Valley floor, 64 per cent, or 1280 square kilometers, was taken up by mining leases.
About 14 per cent, or 275 square kilometres, of the Hunter Valley floor is, or was, active open-cut coal-mining, compared to 189 square kilometres, or 9.5 per cent, 12 years before.

Mr Rey Lescure said mining rehabilitation looked "green and healthy" after rain, narrowing the extent of active mining from 315 square kilometres, or 16 per cent, measured in 2011.

The area affected by open-cuts increased from 68.9 square kilometres in 1987 and 126.3 square kilometres in 1996. This includes 23 final voids that will be left when open-cut mining ends.

DIGGING IN: BHP wants to extend the life of its Mount Arthur coal mine at Muswellbrook through to 2045. Inset The satellite images showing mining in the Upper Hunter.