On 22 March 2013, the NSW Environment Minister announced that three new Pollution Reduction Programs (PRPs) have been issued to all open cut coal mines in NSW in accordance with the Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) ‘Dust Stop’ program.

The Dust Stop program, which commenced at the end of 2010, aims to ensure that the most ‘reasonable and feasible particulate control options’ are applied by each coal mine in NSW. The program is implemented through PRPs attached to each mine’s Environment Protection Licence (EPL) pursuant to s 68 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW).

According to the Minister’s media release, the ‘PRP Program is being implemented in response to recommendations from an independent International Best Practice Measures for Controlling Emissions from Coal Mining report, commissioned by the EPA.’

The 3 new PRPs will require each open cut coal mine to:

  1. achieve best practice in controlling and reducing wheel-generated dust and to ensure that these activities are monitored over a 1 year period to ensure achievement of this standard;
  2. reduce handling of overburden during adverse weather conditions and to monitor the outcomes of this measure; and
  3. build on these programs to develop additional and improved dust management measures in the future.

The PRPs are intended to reduce dust emissions in the Hunter region by approximately 20%. 

The NSW Mineral Council is supportive of the new PRPs with CEO Stephen Galilee stating1 that the ‘new dust Pollution Reduction Programs represent an important partnership between the mining industry and the NSW Government to address the issue of air quality.’