THE Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue’s mobile classroom was on the road again this month when St Catherine’s Catholic College Year 9 students visited Yancoal’s Hunter Valley Operations (HVO) mine site.
The bus tours of HVO by 49 St Catherine’s pupils and their teachers on November 13 and November 20 were part of the dialogue’s School Mine Tours Program, which is scheduled to see about 1200 local Year 9 and Year 5 students visit sites across the Upper Hunter over the next 12 months.
During the HVO mine tours, youngsters had a close up view of the mine’s entire operations with HVO employees as expert tour guides.
Students received a first-hand experience of the mining process including from the exploration stage, to actual mining of coal and its uses, the progressive rehabilitation of mined land, through to the eventual closure of mines and the return of mine sites to land suitable for other uses.
The pupils were guided through the HVO operations by environmental specialist rehabilitation Bill Baxter, mining engineer Alison Tibbett and geologist Robert McGrath.
The School Mine Tours Program aims to educate Upper Hunter students on all aspects of coal mining including its impacts on the community and the benefits it provides in our day-to-day lives.
It gives students and teachers the unique opportunity of seeing mining operations up close while presenting factual and unbiased information.
The overall School Mine Tours Program has been put together by a working group including community and industry representatives and teachers and aims to demystify the mining process while teaching the facts instead of opinion or emotion.
In conjunction with the tours program, the working group is developing in-class materials which will align with the Year 9 syllabus.
With all the dialogue’s mining industry partners supporting the program, tours will be conducted at most open cut mine sites across the Upper Hunter.