Lithgow coal mine water pipeline holdup threatens electricity grid

Coal supplies to the 1400MW Mount Piper Power Station are under threat according to this ABC report – Lithgow faces ‘mini depression’ if $100m mine water pipeline not approved, Mayor says – It seems approval is needed for a water pipeline but if anybody has more detailed info please pass on. Mount Piper generates about 17.5% of the current coal fired generation in NSW. I suppose in an emergency coal could be trucked/railed in from somewhere but would mean hundreds of truck movements per day to supply the ~14,000t of coal per day.
Just another threat to baseload electricity on our already rickety grid.

6 thoughts on “Lithgow coal mine water pipeline holdup threatens electricity grid”

  1. > ” … coal could be trucked/railed in from somewhere …” [to Mt Piper]

    The perennial hope for Mt Piper …

    However, when the Wran Govt built Mt Piper, it was built *without* a coal unloader for rail (to keep initial capital costs down). There is no rail line in nor any facility to unload rail cars if a rail line was constructed.

    Springvale Colliery constructed a cross-country belt line to transport the fuel to the power station. Trucking in from the Mudgee area (eg. Maules Creek) is so fraught with safety/environmental/cost issues that every time this option was examined, it was abandoned in preference for a beer or two at the pub.

    The proposed waste water pipeline would more or less follow the existing cross-country belt line. Alternatively, the loss of Mt Piper from the power grid in mid-winter will be catastrophic.

  2. Just a wry comment here on this, and it’s where Warwick mentions that Mt Piper consumes (around) 14,000 Tonnes of coal a day.

    Ask anyone how much coal they think is consumed (in a day) at a large scale coal fired power plant.

    I’ve had answers as low as a couple of tons and one even went as high as perhaps a hundred tonnes.

    Tell them it’s around 15,000 tonnes a day, and the looks I get are just priceless, usually followed immediately by ….. surely that can’t be true.

    People have absolutely no idea about the process involved with feeding in the coal at the front end, and getting electricity out the other end.

    Yet, to a person, they all say that we need to do without it.


  3. Living here in Rockhampton, those coal trains come by here on their from Blackwater to the coal loader at Gladstone. Each unit is around one kilometre long and is hauled by five of those huge locomotives. There are 100 coal hoppers, and each coal hopper holds 100 tonnes, so that’s 10,000 tonnes per coal train.

    That’s around 16 hours supply for one large scale coal fired plant.


  4. Ianl8888 there is a rail siding very close to Mt Piper power station. Coal was loaded there with FELs for the Invincible colliery. I think the area is called Pipers flat. However facilities would need to be put in to dump the coal wagons and to stockpile it. I would imge it would be cheaper to bring col in by road from the new mine at Airly.
    However, the water pipeline if that is needed will get built. Greenies are not very strong in the Lithgow area. I think the liberals are getting the message that power is necessary to keep employment going and keep the majority of voters happy.

  5. @ cementafriend

    > ” … there is a rail siding very close to Mt Piper power station. Coal was loaded there with FELs for the Invincible colliery”

    Yes I know – it is completely inadequate for Mt Piper purposes. Been looked at many, many times. There was even a short private haul road from Wallerawang Colliery (long closed) to Mt Piper. The lack of an unloader loop at Mt Piper has caused much frustration but any upfront capital proposed now is subject to insane sovereign risk, in my view.

    Airly is a very limited deposit with very limiting subsidence issues that exclude high productivity longwalling for any appreciable reserve. The overwhelming subsidence prohibition in the NSW Western Coalfield is that of dropping sections of the Triassic cliffs within sight of a busy-enough public road. A complete no-no – the State Govt will *not* countenance that environmental risk … Angus Place Colliery won the Olympic Gold on that.

    I expect the water pipeline will be constructed as there is already a “beltway” to follow, as it were. But do not underestimate Keith Muir of the Colong Foundation. He still has friends in high ABC places. On quite a few occasions the ABC has hired a chopper for him to video whatever he thinks will influence public opinion and then obligingly run the film on the 7pm news – accuracy was completely irrelevant.

  6. IanI888 19 May
    “Trucking in from the Mudgee area (eg. Maules Creek) is so…”.

    Maules Creek is a long way from Mudgee, well it used to be when I worked on the early exploration at Maules Creek in the early 80s. 🙂

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