Revegetation of the Stockton Coal Mine, Buller
Stockton Coal Mine is situated 25 km north-east of Westport and stretches from 1 km to 5 km from the coast. The 2,200-ha coal mining licence is located within the western sector of the Buller Coal Field on a plateau 400 to 1,100 m above the coastal plain. The opencast mine currently has a disturbed area of 750 ha and is expected to have a footprint of more than 900 ha at end of mine life. Thick seams of generally high quality coal exported for use in thermal, coking, and specialised markets overlies a basement of weathered granite rock. This material is quarried for mine road aggregate and, due to its phosphate content, is capable of supporting vegetation. Overlying the coal is a thick layer of hard, massive quartz sandstone overburden, which is fragmented by blasting and stripped using 180-tonne excavators. It has poor plant-supporting characteristics, being low in fertility and having low water and nutrient-holding capacity. Remnants of the Kaiata mudstone exist on top of the sandstone and contribute to acid rock drainage through oxidation of sulphide-bearing minerals.
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