Darling Range bauxite was discovered in 1957, however, it was not until the late 1970s that the Boddington bauxite (Mt Saddleback) reserves were developed under the Worsley Agreement. South32 – Worsley Alumina Pty Ltd currently operates the 12 Mt per annum at the Mt Saddleback mine, which is located 12km south of the Boddington township.
Boddington bauxite exists predominantly as a 2 to 12 metre thick hardcap layer that is drilled and blasted, while bulldozers are used to rip into shallow, softer layers of ore. The freshly mined bauxite is then crushed in two stages, the first reducing the rocks to less than 18cm and the second to less than 3cm. Once crushed the ore is stockpiled before being conveyed 51km overland to the alumina refinery.
The rehabilitation work at Boddington aims to establish a self-sustaining jarrah forest ecosystem focusing on recreation, conservation and hydrological aspects. After mining initial work focuses on ripping up any compacted areas to improve drainage and promote root growth, followed by a reshaping of the area to reflect the surrounding landscape. A gravel overburden is then spread over the area followed by topsoil containing organic matter and native seeds, complemented by the placement of forest litter to provide habitats native animals. Further seeding is then undertaken with more than 90 species of ground covers (understorey and overstorey) – specially nurtured seedlings are also planted. Monitoring projects are ongoing to gauge the success of the rehabilitation programs including problems with kangaroo grazing, plant germination and jarrah dieback.
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