Updated: May 20, 2020
Moolarben Coal, located 45 kms north-east of Mudgee, operating since 2013 knew from early in the development phase that minimising noise impacts is an important part of the mine’s profile. The company were operating within noise compliancy conditions but continued community feedback prompted further research into ways to improve the levels of noise coming from the mine.
Moolarben sent its employees into the community at night to assess. Following that investigation they came up with the key source of concern with banging and crashing noises which was the first pass loading activities. At this point Moolarben Coal Mine were complying easily with the conditions but due to the community feedback thought – what can we do about this?
To this end the company teamed up with Komatsu and Duratray to implement a solution for its 220 tonne truck fleet that would help to reduce noise impacts. Duratray provided Moolarben with a specific design body which reduced loading noise while still maintaining truck efficiency. Unlike regular truck bodies, Duratray’s suspended dump body is designed to reduce loading noise, with all trucks fitted with non-standard sound attenuated kits provided by Komatsu.
Not only did the new bodies reduced loading noises by up to 10 decibels, but it was found that payloads were also increased, improving productivity and efficiency at the mine. The bodies are able to carry 20-27 metric tonnes more than the mine was producing before, reduced vibration jarring for the operator and reduced spillages.
The initial Suspended Dump Body trial successfully delivered a notable measurable benefit of noise reduction during loading of adverse hard rock materials and with the success of the first trial the company invested into four new SBDs to fit the fleet of Komastu haul trucks. A spokesman for the NSW Minerals Councils said the investments being implemented at Moolarben to help ease community concerns around mining showed the ways in which mining companies were listening and responding to concerns.
At the time, Moolarben Coal’s Stealth Fleet was recognised for its environmental excellence at a NSW Minerals Council’s awards ceremony. The initiative won them a finalists position, placing them highly commended at the Community and Environment Excellence Awards. This investment by Moolarben Coal was seen as setting a new industry benchmark for environmental noise reduction impacts on the community.