Ten years ago – when MythBusters was a cult TV show for lovers of science and technology – a small team of civil engineers at AGL Loy Yang challenged themselves to change the way water is managed in the open cut coal mine.

Was it possible to pump water from the bottom of the coal mine to the fire services dam – the equivalent of filling a very deep Olympic-sized swimming pool at the top of Eureka Tower – in fifteen minutes?

And – most importantly – was it possible to build this in an operational coal mine with extreme ground movement, and with built-in technology for the system to shut itself down within two minutes of a leak being detected?

Next month, those civil engineers will declare this myth officially busted – with the commissioning of DWPS11.

Dewatering Infrastructure Upgrade Project Supervisor Anthony Symonds with the new pumping system


One of those engineers is Site Services Manager Stewart Cluning.

‘I’m very excited to see new generation of pump infrastructure commissioned,’ he said.

According to Loy Yang’s Head of Mining, Jeff Hobson, the project is the culmination of work by half a dozen dedicated civil, mechanical, and electrical engineers, who shared a vision to build a dewatering and fire service solution for the second half of the mine’s life.

‘The pump sets used on this project are capable of pumping anything the mine can throw at them,’ he said.

‘Similarly, some of the most advanced SCADA1 technology has been utilised to monitor and control the system automatically.’

‘The solution developed will improve the mine’s fire-fighting capability by utilising the new high-volume pump station to move more water when its required and remove rainwater from the mine during peak one in 100-year storm events.’

General Manager Coal Operations Steve Rieniets said the $40 million investment by AGL is testament to the designs and innovative solutions of Fire Service Engineer Rohan Bett.

‘One of Rohan’s mantras was to “begin with the end in mind”,’ he said.

‘He delivered on this brief with that mantra. The portable floating pump stations will move with the growth of the mine, whilst the pipelines are sized and located to remain where they are until 2048.

‘If you can’t manage water in a mine the size of Loy Yang you are in a lot of trouble. To that end this is a very elegant engineering solution.’


Fast facts

  • $40 million investment in de-watering system and control technology
  • Approximately 60 employees and contractors worked on construction for 19 months
  • 3kms of de-watering and 3.5kms of fire service pipelines were installed
  • Nine pumps installed with scope for additional pumps
  • Two pumps installed on floating pontoons at the base of the mine

*Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition is a control system that uses a variety of different networks and devices for managing, interfacing, and controlling machinery.