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The Blair Athol Mine

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After an early breakfast it was off to the meeting point for the Blair Athol Mine tour.

We were surprised to find the tour fully booked and after boarding the bus we drove the 15 minutes out to the mine site.

The BA tour Bus

The BA tour Bus

 

After checking in to security the driver took us to virtually every part of the mine site.

Although we could not leave the bus it was easy to see the full workings of the site.

We saw the large crushing sites where the coal is crushed for transportation and where the coal from the nearby Clermont mine is conveyed by belt overland for 14 kilometres to be stockpiled ready  for loading onto the coal trains.

We moved up to a high lookout where it was possible to get a birds eye view of the whole site which was amazing. The huge piles of topsoil form mini mountains for miles around this open cut mine. It’s the first layer of material to be removed from the area to be mined and at Blair Athol the top soil is about 15 metres deep. It is stripped off by the massive dragline and stored in mountainous piles exposing the next layer which is mud rock.

High up on the lookout we can see the workings of the mine.

High up on the lookout we can see the workings of the mine.

 

This is blasted with explosives to break it up and then this also is removed by the dragline and stored in separate mountainous piles.

The blast holes are easily seen here.

The blast holes are easily seen here.

Once this layer of approximately 15 metres is removed the coal seem is exposed and the huge scrapers and dozers move in stripping the coal which is loaded onto gigantic dump trucks and taken to the stockpile ready for cleaning and crushing.

When the coal is removed the dragline then revisits the area and the mud rock is dragged back into the pit followed by the topsoil.

The dragline moves .6m backwards an hour

The dragline moves .6m backwards an hour

 

The area is then replanted and left to regenerate.

One the coal is washed and crushed it is transported to a stockpile and from here two huge machines gather the coal, load it onto yet another conveyer that takes the coal to the hopper which loads the trains.

We were fortunate enough to be there as a train was loading.

All operated by one person the 2.5 kilometre train moves forward at walking speed activating an automatic loader.

As beach carriage moves underneath the hopper 106 tonnes of coal is released loading a carriage in 58 seconds.

The train’s 120 carriages are filled in 2.5 hours and the train increases speed and heads for Dalrymple Bay with the $900,000.00 worth of coal to be loaded on the bulk coal ships.

We returned to Clermont with the driver telling us fascinating details about the town and the surrounds.

The tour was absolutely fascinating and the driver’s knowledge and commentary was excellent.

After working for the afternoon we went out to the Clermont Mine and picked up David and came back into town for a meal at the local Chinese Restaurant.

The meal was delicious and it was great to catch up with David.

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