There has been a long history of mining in the Ulan area, dating back almost 90 years. Mining operations within our Colliery Holding have included open cut, highwall and underground mining within No. 1, 2 and 3 underground mining areas. Open cut mining ceased in mid 2008 as the approved resource had been exhausted. The current development consents and mining titles under which we operate allow for mining within Ulan No. 3 underground and highwall mining areas which now incorporates the areas referred to as Ulan West and the proposed open cut area.
Mining in the Ulan area has been undertaken since the early 1920s creating with it the Ulan No. 1 Colliery Holding for the supply of coal to local markets. The distance to major markets prohibited the continuation of mining and operation ceased. The mine reopened in 1942 and continued operations until 1950.
A new mine was developed by Hogan & Gorman further east creating the Ulan Colliery Holding No. 2 to supply coal to the new power station that was built to the north of the Ulan Village as well as supplying local markets. This mine is referred to as the No. 2 mine. When the power station closed in 1969, mining at Ulan No. 2 mine continued on a small scale to supply other domestic markets (Connell Wagner 1992). In the late 1970s Hogan & Gorman registered UCML and ownership transferred to White Industries and later part ownership on to Mitsubishi Operations and NSW State Super Board.
An exploration program undertaken in 1976 in the Ulan area proved the existence of extensive coal reserves, and mining operations at UCML expanded substantially in the 1980s with the establishment of the open cut mine. This expansion included the construction of the coal preparation plant and rail loading facility and augmentation of No. 2 underground in 1982.
Traditional board and pillar underground mining methods were used from the mid 1970s to mid 1980s prior to longwall methods being introduced in 1986 with the commencement of Ulan No. 3. In the mid 1990s we successfully introduced highwall mining. Xstrata Coal Pty Limited purchased 90 per cent of UCML in 2001. Mining within the open cut continued until mid 2008, when approved reserve recovery areas were exhausted.
Underground mining within the Ulan No. 3 area remained ongoing with current approvals allowing for longwall mining operations until 2021. In November 2010, we were granted project approval for continuing mining within Ulan No. 3 underground which incorporates the area now referred to as Ulan West and extension of the existing open cut mine. The Part 3A project approval secures mining operations for an additional 21 years.