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End of an era with New Oakleigh coal mine to close

Rosewood's New Oakleigh coal mine.
Rosewood's New Oakleigh coal mine. Sarah Fleming

AFTER 65 years in operation, the New Oakleigh coal mine in Rosewood is to close.

Owner New Hope will officially close the mine on the outskirts of town next Thursday. Production has declined at the mine over recent years, with last year's production only about 350,000 tonnes.

"The mine has now reached the end of its productive life," New Hope said in a statement. It said it had found the site's 30 employees other positions in the company where possible.

The Oakleigh Colliery company began in 1948 when the Rule family acquired the mine, which started as a pick and shovel operation.

New Hope bought the Oakleigh mine from the Rule family and partners in 1999 when the declining export market and burgeoning Australian dollar increased pressure on local mining operations.

New Hope had planned to close New Oakleigh sooner but the high price fetched by coal in recent years prolonged the operation's cost-effectiveness.

Rosewood councillor David Pahlke said the mine's closure was bittersweet for a community with the proud mining past but which knew only too well the disadvantages of dust-covered trucks thundering through the main street in recent years.

"I think you have to recognise the historical significance of it because there are lot of proud miners who worked in it when it was an underground mine," Cr Pahlke said. "But it's 2013 and we know now that mining and residential areas don't mix.

"So I'm pleased the sunset clause that we've been talking about for 10 years has finally come through."

So I'm pleased the sunset clause that we've been talking about for 10 years has finally come through.

He said he was part of a committee that worked with New Hope to deal with issues arising from the mine's operation.

"There will be some stockpiles that need to be removed after the operation ceases and then I expect New Hope will be spending a lot of money on rehabilitating the mine."

New Hope said it would continue operating its nearby Jeebropilly mine. It and Oakleigh had supplied export and domestic markets for power generation and general industry.

Topics:  david pahlke, new hope coal, new oakleigh coal mine, rosewood, rule family, sumitomo coal


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