Land and Biodiversity
Sandfire has land holdings in Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Northern Territory. We aim to protect and preserve areas of ecological or biodiverse importance, prevent land degradation and return disturbed land to a stable and productive condition through progressive rehabilitation.
The impact of our operations varies and we adjust our approach to rehabilitation accordingly. We explore over large areas but impacts are relatively low and short term. Our mining activities are confined to a small area but have greater impacts over a longer period of time.
The land use impacts of our operations are managed in accordance with our regulator licences, Environmental Policy, Environmental Management System, Biodiversity Management Plan and Biodiversity Standard.
We aim to minimise land disturbance and rehabilitate disturbed areas through a number of methods. These include:
- conducting baseline biodiversity surveys
- exploration and mine planning
- regulatory permitting
- operational controls in line with our environmental management system that include monitoring, training, inspections, and corrective action
- undertaking progressive rehabilitation and monitoring the success of that rehabilitation through Ecosystem Function Analysis programs (at DeGrussa)
- mine closure planning.
Progressive rehabilitation involves the staged restoration of disturbed areas. As well as mitigating impacts of disturbance during operations, progressive rehabilitation allows us to collect data that will help to develop appropriate mine closure completion criteria, ultimately supporting responsible mine closure and relinquishment.
Biodiversity planning in action
While planning for the development of the Monty Project, we conducted comprehensive environmental assessments to determine the scale of impact of our proposed operations. These assessments identified that an ephemeral watercourse traversed the 10 kilometre stretch between DeGrussa and Monty. It was evident from flora and fauna assessments that the watercourse supported dense acacia shrubland and eucalypt woodland habitats and would be a haven for local wildlife, particularly birds.
After we completed our baseline studies, we consulted with external stakeholders and established that the design of the haul road for the project would be placed well away from this high value habitat. We also considered indirect impacts such as altered hydrology and developed management strategies to avoid impacts where appropriate. As a result, we designed a 14 kilometre curving haul road over sparse acacia shrublands.
Floodways were installed along the route to ensure surface water flows were not significantly altered. The haul road crossed a minor tributary of the watercourse and a number of performance criteria were established as part of the regulatory approvals process to ensure that any potential impacts during construction were minimised.