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Stewart Emerson
July 25, 2023


Premier Coal (Premier) is Western Australia’s largest coal producer, mining about 4 million tonnes per year. It’s managed by Yancoal Australia on behalf of its majority shareholder Yanzhou Coal Mining Company.

Premier has a proud history of mining in WA’s Collie Coal Basin, in the South West region, stretching back more than 65 years and has reserves to deliver 4 million tonnes per annum for another 30 years. Its coal is currently used to generate the bulk of Western Australia’s power supplies and is also used in alumina and synthetic rutile production. The Company was acquired by Yangzhou in 2011 and has been managed by Yancoal Australia since then.

Premier employs about 400 people and supports an array of community groups and projects. It places great emphasis on leaving disturbed mining areas in a sound environmental condition, designed to be compatible with existing landscapes and vegetation and, where ever possible, applies the principle of value-added rehabilitation.


The Premier site is made up of 2 major areas; the 1,400 Ha mining footprint with 3 active pits and the 1,200 Ha Western Areas where production ceased in 1996. The Western Areas were rehabilitated to State Forest before Yancoal commenced management and as a result the data on the status of this area was very limited. An internal closure initiative in early 2022 meant that the environmental team wanted to assess its condition and identify any further interventions, ultimately to support future plans for eventual relinquishment.

The data gaps meant that a wide variety of information was required from slope angles and erosion to vegetation cover, habitat structures and invasive species.

A traditional consultant-led survey was not the ideal approach because of the scale of the area, uneven nature of the terrain, short-term availability of resources and the inability to meet the project time scale.

“The insights and sheer scale of Dendra's analysis are what really caught our attention.”

- Lenny Bloomfield, Environment and Community Advisor, Yancoal Australia


Best practices are shared across Yancoal Australia and as a result the Premier team had heard positive feedback about Dendra’s ability to rapidly baseline large areas and to provide the wide range of actionable insights that were required. Dendra was engaged, onboarded and quickly able to survey the 1,200 Ha western areas. These were captured within 2 days using drones equipped with high resolution and multispectral sensors.

This enabled 100% of the area data to be collected instead of using traditional surveys which would collect under 1% and rely on data extrapolation. The data accuracy was assured by field ecologists who ground truthed the site features and flora species over the 2 day period.

This high resolution and multispectral imagery was uploaded to the Dendra Platform, georeferenced and combined with satellite data to create photomosaic baseline maps. The digital elevation model plus slope angles, area classification, erosion and flora were all automatically identified and labelled using ecology aware machine learning, enhanced by a 30+ team of ecologists. These actionable insights proved invaluable in baselining the status of the rehabilitated western areas and in identifying further interventions. As a result the Premier team was able to successfully deliver against the numerous requirements of their internal programme.

In future the Premier team intends to use Dendra to accurately measure and maintain the area’s rehabilitation status, providing the essential trend insights to support progressive rehabilitation on the journey towards eventual relinquishment.


Dendra was able to quickly and effectively react to Premier’s project requirements and to provide the insights required over a large area to support their short and longer-term rehabilitation programme needs.

The benefits:

  • 90% reduction in field work – 2 days versus estimated 4+ weeks
  • 100% site data captured versus 1% using traditional surveys
  • Comprehensive range of actionable insights
  • Improved insight accuracy and precision
  • Improved safety resulting from reduced time onsite

“Dendra was able to rapidly survey a large area, collect and analyse a wide range of rehabilitation and closure relevant data and deliver it in a format that's immediately useful and actionable.”

- Lenny Bloomfield, Environment and Community Advisor, Yancoal Australia


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