OREANDA-NEWS. April 11, 2016. Rio Tinto has welcomed results that show cattle can thrive on land rehabilitated after mining, as part a trial being run by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

At a final weigh in this week, ten steers that have spent the past 18 months on land rehabilitated by Rio Tinto were found to be 150 kilograms heavier on average than cattle grazed on unmined farming land.

The cattle were run on land at the Hunter Valley Operations mine site near Singleton and the adjoining control property, Wandewoi, as part of the Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue Grazing Study.

The ongoing study is investigating whether rehabilitated mine land can sustainably support productive and profitable grazing livestock.

Rio Tinto manager environment and community Andrew Speechly said “So far, the results of the study are really promising. The steers on the rehabilitated land are the stand-out performers despite starting on a level playing ground in terms of lineage and weight.

“This phase of the grazing study has been a good test of the quality of Rio Tinto’s rehabilitation work in the Hunter Valley.

“Rehabilitation areas at Hunter Valley Operations have been grazed for more than 15 years and the anecdotal evidence has been that the cattle have performed very well.

“The benefit of this trial is that we are getting good quality data to confirm that rehabilitated mining land can support cattle grazing with the right approach in place.

“We’ve borrowed the best practice techniques from the agriculture sector as we work collectively with the community to change the way mines operate and minimise the impacts of mining.

“The exotic grasses and legumes that have been established on the rehabilitated land are proving to be more productive than the suite of mainly native grasses that exist on the unmined site.

“These are very encouraging results and there is potential to improve the grazing productivity of this rehabilitated land even further through management practices aimed at increasing the growth of winter-active species such as clovers and medics.”

The project is being managed by the NSW Department of Primary Industries and overseen by the Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue’s joint working group on Land Management, which includes representatives of local grazing and community groups, as well as representatives from government and local miners.

The trial also monitors the health of the cattle through blood tests and monitors the pasture, providing valuable information on the growth rates and feed quality of the rehabilitated land.

Rio Tinto is continuing to support this valuable project to learn just how productive rehabilitated mining land can be.

A larger herd of weaner steers will be introduced to land at Hunter Valley Operations in the coming months to continue gathering data over a range of seasonal conditions and comprehensively test the carrying capacity of the paddocks.