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Wesfarmers Resources has investments in two open cut coal mines. We are a leading metallurgical coal producer and supplier of thermal coal for domestic power generation. We operate the Curragh coal mine near Blackwater in Queensland’s Bowen Basin and have a 40 per cent interest in the Bengalla mine in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales.

This report refers to the Curragh coal mine only. For more information about the Bengalla mine, click here.

Resources employ 425 people including 387 at the Curragh mine. The average number of contractors on site per month is 1,092.

Total coal production for Curragh was 13,963,000 tonnes and we exported our product to Japan, South Asia, North Asia and Europe. Our revenue this year was $1,008 million.

Click here to read about Wesfarmers’ position on investing in coal assets.

Material issues

Our business focuses on the following key areas to improve our sustainability:

  • Health and safety
  • Community contribution
  • Climate change resilience
  • Diversity
  • Water
  • Customers
  • Governance
  • Rehabilitation

Health and safety


Keeping our employees, contractors and visitors safe on site continues to be a key priority for Curragh. This year, the team developed a 90-day safety initiative ‘Aligning our Focus’, to further improve the site’s safety performance. Central to the initiative’s success is the introduction of a number of key themes, each aligned to an identified safety improvement action area. The use of these themes helped focus operational and training efforts, while also simplifying the communication tasks. The initiative will continue in 2016-17.


Coal workers' pneumoconiosis, also known as black lung disease, is a chronic occupational lung disease caused by exposure to high concentrations of coal dust over many years. The disease has re-emerged in the Queensland coal industry after almost three decades and as of 4 July 2016, 11 coal miners have been diagnosed with pneumoconiosis in Queensland. All confirmed cases have been miners who work, or have worked, in underground mining environments. An independent report by Monash University, commissioned by the State Government confirmed that the respiratory elements of a health screening system to protect Queensland coal mine workers had failed.

While the risk of exposure to high concentrations of coal dust is mostly associated with underground mining environments, Curragh — an open-cut mine — took action following the release of the report findings to enhance its existing compliance with industry standards.

Safety performance


total recordable injury frequency rate
2016   4.8
2015   4.2
2014   5.0
2013   14.8
2012   18.8

Curragh introduced additional safeguards including changes to health screening for identified exposure groups and the review of existing dust suppression. The health and wellbeing of our employees, contractors and visitors remains a top priority for the business.


Community contributions

The business remains committed to supporting the Blackwater community. A Blackwater community survey was conducted and a forum held to determine the key challenges local, not-for-profit organisations face and the support they require. The focus is on continuing to support activities or opportunities that would not otherwise be available within the region.

Community contributions


2016   182,751
2015   120,431
2014   235,121
2013   240,000
2012   550,000
2016   32,844
2015   5,419
2014   3,075
2013   6,000
2012   5,000

Climate change resilience

The University of Queensland’s Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation is involved in a three year research program to better understand how rehabilitated landforms respond to fire and what this means for long-term climate change resilience. This year, Wesfarmers Resources commissioned a research project on the impact of climate change and increased fire risk to Curragh’s rehabilitation.

Greenhouse gas emissions


tonnes CO2e: '000
2016   544
2015   663
2014   569
2013   621
2012   644
1Bank cubic metres measure volume of material moved in mining operations

Energy use


2016   4.0
2015   5.1
2014   4.6
2013   3.8
2012   4.1
1Bank cubic metres measure volume of material moved in mining operations


The business remains committed to building on the success of the initial ‘Oothungs’ (Sisters) in Mining program. Approval has been granted for the 2017 Oothung program with the next intake of trainees to commence during June 2017.

Water management

Curragh continues with initiatives to reduce raw water consumption. River water use at the mine has decreased by 27 per cent over the past two years. This can be attributed to greater water efficiencies, innovation and increased use of reclaimed mine water. Sustainable water use and water management remains a key part of Curragh’s environmental program.

Water use


2016   7,035
2015   7,086
2014   8,148
2013   7,920
2012   2,742


Progressive rehabilitation of the Curragh mine site remains a high priority for Wesfarmers Resources. The aim is to rehabilitate land to an agreed use. The University of Queensland’s Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation is involved in a five year comprehensive mine rehabilitation research program at Curragh.


2016-17 priorities

Health and safety:

  • continue the 90-day safety initiatives
  • 10 per cent reduction in TRIFR
  • 15 per cent reduction in high potential incidents

Community contributions: continue support for a range of sponsorship initiatives

Climate change resilience:

  • continue research into rehabilitation responses to fire
  • involvement in the Wesfarmers carbon policy scenarios post-2020

Diversity: continue to focus on the Women in Resources program and continuation of the 'Oothungs' (Sisters) in Mining program

Water: initiatives to increase use of reclaimed water and to further reduce river water use by five per cent

Customers: Continue to support the Australian Coal Industry's Research Program to develop test methods for coal in accordance with the requirements of the International Maritime Organisation’s International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code

Governance: legislative compliance; Code of Conduct and Equal Employment Opportunities training

Rehabilitation: progressive rehabilitation

GRI Reference: G4-DMA, G4-12, G4-EN11