Welcome to the Boral (Berrima) Colliery website
Boral have developed this website specifically for the community of Berrima and surrounding areas.
Boral is inviting the local Berrima community to attend dedicated community engagement days for up to date information on the closure process of the Berrima Colliery. Boral representatives will be on hand to answer any questions while informational infographics, video resources and the newly launched microsite will be on display, providing further guidance on the processes and ongoing work underway at the Colliery
Where: Berrima Hall (Argyle Street, Berrima, [Near corner of Argyle St and Market Pl])
When: Friday 1, Saturday 2 November; 10am – 12pm
Friday 8, Saturday 9 November; 10am – 12pm
Boral has recently installed seven bulkheads within the underground workings of the mine.
What’s a bulkhead? It’s essentially a large concrete ‘plug’ that works as a barrier to the rise and flow of ground waters through the workings of the colliery. This is designed to help minimise the volume of groundwater, impacted by natural occurring minerals present within the colliery’s geology, being released into the nearby Wingecarribee River. Each bulkhead is approximately seven metres wide and three metres high and spans the entire width and height of the tunnels.
Since 2016 we’ve been working with the NSW EPA to continually monitoring the quality of the natural ground water that flows through the Colliery and discharges into the Wingecarribee to ensure it isn’t harming the delicate river ecosystem.
Our most recent results have shown a decrease in minerals present in this discharged water and stabilised pH levels.
These improved water quality results have been achieved as part of a trial "passive water treatment system we introduced in 2017. Passive treatment relies on oxygenation and the use of a bed of limestone.
By directing ground waters from the Colliery across the limestone bed, excess mineral are removed (by precipitation) before the water flows into the river. The successful passive treatment was used until May 2019 when the bulkheads were installed. The bulkheads are designed to minimise the flow of water into the river.
While the passive treatment system is not currently in use, it will be available should the bulkheads prove inefficient in significantly minimising the flow of ground waters released. We still continue to monitor water quality in the river closely and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Report - Environmental Protection Lic No. 608 Annual Return
Date: January 2020
February 2020 Issue
Community Engagement Days
Community Working Group Meeting
18 September 2020
Report - Water Quality Summary Report to NSW EPA
Date: March 2020
Report - Water Quality, Sediment and Macroinvertebrate Scientific NSW EPA
Date: March 2020
Report - Annual Environmental Management Report (AEMR) for Consolidated Coal Lease (CCL 748) to Resources Regulator
Date: March 2020
Boral continues to monitor the water being discharged from the adit, working with the regulatory stakeholders on the bulkhead performance and the journey to final closure.
With the bulkheads installed, the passive water treatment is paused as groundwater is recharging and discharge volumes have reduced by 95%
After much consultation and discussion, Boral decides to input a long-term solution into the mine. This leads to the installation seven bulkheads in the mine.
2018 – 2019
Boral works with the regulatory stakeholders and the CWG on a permanent solution.
Boral opens up their Closure Working Group (CWG) to new members. Boral invites members of the local Southern Highlands community to be nominated and appoints 5 community members alongside experts and members of the EPA.
The CWG is chaired by an independent chairperson. For further information on the terms of reference on the CWG, check the Resources section.
The passive treatment system is commissioned. It is effective, reducing the minerals in the water substantially (by 80%).
While the passive water treatment is successful, it is only a temporary solution for Boral.
Construction for the full scale passive treatment system commences
A passive water treatment trial is designed and constructed, which proves successful. This leads to the development of a full scale underwater passive treatment system.
Boral notifies Government authorities of the elevated mineral levels, and its work to identify a solution.
Results indicate that the water coming from the adit – which is natural groundwater – is showing an increase in iron, manganese, zinc and nickel. These are naturally occurring elements in the mine, which are being carried by the ground water when it drains via the adit.
The mine reaches the same level of water being discharged as it had historically been doing when the Berrima Colliery was functioning
As the mine is moving to closure, underground work ceases including the operation of the underground water pumps meaning water is left to flow and drain naturally through the colliery.
Boral provides advice to Regulatory Stakeholders of the intention to move towards, and seek approval for, final closure of the Boral Colliery
Who are the Regulatory Stakeholders?
Department of Planning and Environment – Resource Regulator.
Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
Department of Primary Industries - Water (DPI-Water).
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage
Wingecarribee Shire Council.
The mine ceases production and moves into ‘care and maintenance’ mode.
What is care and maintenance mode?
This is a phase where the mine is monitored and managed, while Boral works with Regulatory Stakeholders. The mine is no longer working or producing anything but is still being cared for.
All work is stopped.
Boral takes ownership of the mine.
The mine operates under Boral’s ownership until 2013.
The primary focus of the mine is the supply of coal to the Berrima Cement Works kiln.
Mining of the Wongawilli Seam begins within the Colliery Holdings
Boral has assisted with the performance monitoring of water flowing from the mine.
These reports study the impact on the river including water quality, aquatic ecology, ecotoxicology and segment analysis. Boral has used these results to further develop the strategies to minimise long term environmental impacts associated with the mine's closure.
Below are the monthly monitoring results and water reports that you can access:
We continue to conduct regular community and working group meetings where we share updates and discuss any questions or concerns. We encourage residents to discuss issues at these community meetings so that the working group members may continue to discuss at their forum.
You can access and read the minutes from any of the community and working group meetings below:
Following the closure of the Berrima Colliery in 2013, the mine has been closely managed and monitored while Boral works with regulators and the community towards a safe, secure and environmentally responsible final closure. Boral understands that this transition may raise some questions and has provided the following information to answer any common queries and ease any concerns associated with this process.
Boral inherited the mine as part of its acquisition of the Berrima cement works. In 2013, Boral decided that it wanted to close the Colliery and outlined a carefully considered transition process into long-term care and maintenance which will then move into closure.
When mines close, sites will commonly have infrastructure removed as part of the decommissioning process and subsequently undergo a level of environmental remediation work, such as the introduction of safety mechanisms to ensure the long-term safety of the site and its surrounding areas.
The site will then be consistently monitored and secured.
Boral has been working with regulatory stakeholders to ensure the mine is closed safely and securely.
Boral is committed to protecting the mine’s surrounding environment and minimising any environmental impact resulting from its closure.
As part of the closure of the mine, Boral is committed to maintaining good water quality. This included taking part in an initial process of passive treatment (which has since concluded), the installation of bulkheads and close monitoring of any discharged water.
Boral has been working closely with regulators throughout the mine’s ‘care and maintenance’ mode, including the NSW Environment Protection Authority, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Resources Regulator, WaterNSW, DPI-Water, and other relevant stakeholders such as Dr Ian Wright from Western Sydney University.
The limestone treatment is an environmentally-safe option for water treatment. It is a passive treatment process exposes mine water to more oxygen and limestone by pumping the water through long, filter-like beds. This will enable the water’s pH level to stabilise and assist with the significant reduction in a number of minerals such as iron, prior to discharging into the river.
We have found the passive treatment process to be very effective.
Independent assessment of the treatment has confirmed that the water quality from mine discharge has improved significantly. For example – total iron concentrations have dropped to less than 0.5 mg/L compared with 13mg/L in November 2017 i.e the orange colour of the water has improved considerably.
We conducted a thorough exploration of the most sustainable ways to minimise the release of ground waters from the Colliery in a safe and secure way, that would have minimal impact on the environment and community. After consulting extensive research and working with experts, we found the installation of bulkheads to be the best long-term and permanent solution for all stakeholders.
The bulkheads will have no impact on the environment or surrounding land, apart from a possible minimal increase in groundwater levels. This small increase in groundwater levels should be beneficial for local landowners who utilise the water table underneath their land.
We have been working closely with the regulatory stakeholders when monitoring and testing water to ensure we are in line with their benchmarks.
For more information, view the water reports within the resources section of the website.
We have consulted with the community through both community meetings and a dedicated Closure Working Group.
The role of the local community in the CWG is to ensure the views of the local community are raised and considered as part of the closure process. The local community representatives will provide advice and feedback as a member of the general public on the long-term issues that are faced with the options presented for final closure of the mine.
The CWG is an advisory committee. The Resource Regulator, EPA and other government agencies themselves are responsible for ensuring that Boral complies with relevant approvals and statutory requirements.
We have now completed bulkhead installation and have ceased all pump treatment. We have continued underground monitoring and anticipate a reduction in the amount of water flowing from the mine to the river. We will continue to monitor bulkhead effectiveness before moving forward with finalising our closure plan.
As part of our committed to ensuring the safe transition toward closure, we will not finalise Berrima Colliery’s closure until we can be assured of its long-term safety and minimal environmental impact.
Boral is confident that the careful process currently being undertaken to close the mine will ensure a safe and secure environment, with no impact on water quality in surrounding areas.
We do take our local community and environmental responsibilities seriously, which is why we will maintain regular monitoring for the next 12 months of the bulkheads in containing groundwater flows. We will also continue to monitor waters as required within the Colliery’s Environmental Protection Licence (No. 608).