bitumen being laid on a road by a truck

Where giant mining tyre rubber meets the road

In a Queensland first, crumb rubber created from giant mining tyres has been used in a trial to resurface one of Queensland's major highways.

The trial was a collaboration between the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR), BHP and the Australian Flexible Pavement Association (AfPA),  with the aim to investigate if a crumb rubber modified binder made from a 100 percent OTR mining tyre could be used to construct a spray seal for Queensland roads.

Two giant BHP mining tyres, each over 4 metres high and weighing a whopping 4.2 tonnes, were used in the trial.

Although OTR tyres make up to 25 percent of 'end of life' tyres in Australia each year, OTR tyres are only four percent of the tyre waste rubber that is recovered.

The recycling process started with cutting up the tyres to remove of steel and fibres, followed by crushing and crumbing the rubber into crumb of a suitable size. The rubber crumb was then bagged ready for transport to the bitumen binder production site. The crumb was blended into the binder, which was then transported to its final destination for spraying onto the road surfacing.

Acting BMA  Asset President, Tim Day said thecollaborative approach provides the mining industry a sustainable way to reuse tyre waste that would otherwise end up in landfill.

“It will have a positive impact on the environment, as more than 6,000 tonnes of tyres can be used to seal roads,” said Tim.

“This is a great example of how the by-products of mining can be used to positively affect the local communities where we operate, and we look forward to exploring how we can now further expand this trial to other road surfaces around the country.”

Lydia Gentle, Manager – Portfolio Delivery at BHP, was at the forefront of the trial saying she’s proud of the final outcome. 

“It was a fantastic collaboration between BHP, TMR and our industry partners, and marks an exciting start to a more sustainable future for our tyre waste,” Lydia said.

Since completion, the highway surfacing has performed very well in Central Queensland summer heat under the intense mining traffic and continues to be monitored.

Fun Facts!

  • One giant mining tyre provides 3.55 tonnes of crumb rubber.
  • One giant mining tyre weighs 4.2 tonnes vs 10 kilograms for a standard tyre.
  • One giant mining tyre can be used to seal up to 3.5 kilometers of rural highway.
  • The Peak Downs Highway links the towns of Mackay and Clermont and is the main link between Queensland's Whitsunday Coast and the Central West region of the state near the busy mining town of Moranbah.

BHP’s commitment to social value reflects our purpose and role in supplying products essential for the transition of society towards a more sustainable future, a role that we seek to perform in a responsible way.