Peat as a Resource

In Australia peat is primarily used in agriculture and horticulture. It is used

as a soil conditioner and mulch for lawns, shrubbery, and gardens
as a packaging material for seedlings, shrubs and flowers
as a filler in mixed fertilisers; and in mushroom and seed beds.

In 1997 about 26,200 tonnes of peat was used in Australia each year. Seventy percent was imported and 95 percent of the Australian peat came from Wingecarribee Swamp. The Wingecarribee Peat was considerably cheaper than imported peat. The peat was primarily used for horticultural uses.

Australian peat made up a small proportion of the worldwide reserves of some 465,000 million tonnes. Wingecarribee peat was sold all over Australia and was beginning to be exported to Southeast Asia, meaning that production rates were increasing.

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According to Geoffrey Oakes, Senior Geologist, DMR:

[P]eat occurrences in New South Wales are far more extensive than was previously thought. Such deposits are relatively common in the highlands and coastal regions of the State, with at least 25 identified deposits having the capacity to support long term, viable peat mines.

While many additional potential sources of peat were identified during the Department's peat project few of these could be considered to be available for mining. In particular, alternative land use such as national parks, nature reserves and flora reserves within state forests, as well as relatively intensive farming practices like sugar cane production effectively sterilize these deposits from a mining viewpoint.

New South Wales has in situ inferred resources of at least 25 million cubic metres of peat (equivalent to perhaps 6 million t of peat product). Tasmania probably has larger resources, while Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia all have some identified resources...

The analytical data demonstrates that the Wingecarribee Swamp deposit contains the highest quality local peat sampled during the Department's peat project. It is the only known substantial resource of peat in NSW which contains peat that could, by virtue of its intrinsic natural characteristics, be competitive with the West German product...

The peat deposit at Wingecarribee Swamp is the largest known, high quality peat occurrence in New South Wales. It is also the best located in terms of supplying the Sydney region market - the largest market in Australia, and is well located in terms of access to major road and rail links. Peat mined from this deposit is an important component of a variety of products (particularly potting mixes and landscaping materials) and has been gradually gaining acceptance for use by consumers who previously showed a marked preference for imported peat. Wingecarribee peat can substitute for imported peat in most applications, and of all the New South Wales peats tested by the Department, is the peat with the greatest potential for replacing imports.

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According to the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR):

There has been a certain amount of adverse comment as to Wingecarribee peat ending up in the greens of Japanese golf courses. The Department of Mineral Resources takes the view and submits that the Inquiry should find that high value exports of New South Wales minerals into specialised high margin niche markets, such as the export of Wingecarribee peat for use in golf courses, is desirable and should be strongly encouraged.


The uncontroverted evidence is, and we submit the Inquiry should find, that eight jobs will be lost if the mine closes.

Contribution to Local and State Economy

The activities of Emerald Peat provide direct benefits to local haulage contractors and other business utilised in its activities and indirect benefits through expenditure by its workers and the employees of the businesses it deals with.

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Minter Ellison, Summary of Submissions by Emerald Peat Pty Ltd, 1997.

Department of Mineral Resources, Submission to Inquiry into Renewal of Mining leases 567 and 568 at Wingecarribee Swamp, 1997.

Geoffrey Michael Oakes, Senior Geologist, Land Use and Resource Assessment Section, Geological Survey Division, NSW Department of Mineral Resources, The Wingecarribee Swamp Peat Deposit: A Submission to the Chief Mining Warden's Inquiry into Renewal of Special Lease 567 and 568 (Act 1906) to Mine Peat, 1967.



This site has been designed, researched and produced by Sharon Beder

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