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Managing groundwater

Managing groundwater

Like every other Australian mine, water use is strictly regulated at the Carmichael Mine. The sources of water the mine uses and when, and how much water is used, is all detailed in the conditions and regulations set by the Australian and Queensland Governments.

Managing groundwater

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How is groundwater monitored?

Groundwater monitoring is conducted every two months to observe and record water levels and water quality at more than 135 sites around the Carmichael mine.

Bravus’ environmental team and research scientist partners work with neighbouring landholders, Traditional Owners, and regulators to perform the real-time and on-the-ground monitoring required to deliver this comprehensive program.

The information gathered is reported to Bravus Mining and Resources and to regulators and informs a process of checking any actual groundwater drawdown impacts via sensitive early warning triggers.

Bravus Mining and Resources has now provided more than two years of monitoring data. This data is available on our website, and the evidence shows our open-cut mining operation is fully compliant with its strict environmental approvals.


Water is a precious resource and Bravus is committed to its sustainable use in the construction and operation of our Carmichael Mine. 

If you want to learn more about our water management process at the Carmichael mine, please download our fact sheet.

Water management at the Carmichael mine


Groundwater monitoring FAQs

What is groundwater?

Groundwater is the water found under the ground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand, and rock. It is stored in and moves slowly through geologic formations called aquifers. Groundwater is used by communities across Australia for domestic use, farming, and other commercial needs.

Why do we monitor groundwater?

Water is a precious resource, and, like for every other Australian mine, how we manage, use, and protect water is conditioned in the environmental approvals for Carmichael.

We undertake scientific study of groundwater and the supporting spring ecosystems in proximity to our operations (as well as leading research on flora and fauna like the Black-throated Finch) to uphold these regulatory and sustainability commitments to the people of Queensland and Australia.

How do you monitor groundwater?

We use an extensive network of monitoring boreholes and surface water sites located on both our mining and pastoral leases, and on our neighbouring landowners’ properties, to observe, record, and ultimately protect groundwater in the area of the Carmichael mine.

A team of expert environmental scientists and hydrogeologists travel to site every two months to collect data from these locations. Generally speaking, the scientists use the boreholes to:

  • Measure and record the depth of the groundwater below the surface to trend groundwater levels over time,
  • Take a sample of the water for analysis.

The water samples collected are sent to an accredited laboratory where they are tested for up to 40 different parameters as conditioned by our Groundwater Management and Monitoring Plan.

How often do you monitor groundwater at the Carmichael mine?

Groundwater monitoring is conducted every two months to collect and record groundwater data at more than 120 monitoring bores on our mining and pastoral leases and on neighbouring landholders’ properties. Surface water samples are collected from another 15 locations.

What determines where you monitor, how frequently you monitor, and what you look for?

Bravus Mining and Resources’ actions to protect groundwater are set out in the Groundwater Management and Monitoring Plan and Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan, both of which were approved by the Australian and Queensland governments following independent review by the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia.

More than 10 years of baseline groundwater data was collected to inform the Groundwater Management and Monitoring Plan and Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan prior to the document being approved.

These best-practice environmental plans are reviewed annually in consultation with regulators and external scientists to ensure they remain fit-for-purpose as our understanding of local groundwater and spring ecosystems advances as the program is delivered.

Why do you have so many bores, and why are they so far away from the mining area?

Groundwater bodies do not follow land ownership boundaries so our monitoring program uses a network of bores ranging from as close at 200 metres to the mine to up to 35 kilometres away.

This large number of data points gives us a comprehensive, scientific, understanding of local groundwater and allows us to better and more accurately model future trends.

We have land access agreements in place with our neighbours who have a bore or water body we sample from on their property.

Are all the bores the same? If not, why are some different? Do they give different results?

Our groundwater monitoring program collects information on water levels and water quality in aquifers in nine different geological layers.

Some of these aquifers are shallow (less than 15 metres below ground level), while others are as deep as 600 metres below ground level, and the boreholes use different headworks to support the right scientific method of collection based on their depth, pressure, and flow rate.

What do you test for in the groundwater you collect?

We use a National Association of Testing Authorities accredited laboratory to analyse our groundwater and surface water samples per our compliance requirements.

The laboratory tests the samples for 40 different water quality parameters ranging from pH, electrical conductivity and dissolved oxygen to total dissolved solids, major cations and ions, dissolved metals, and total petroleum hydrocarbons.

How do you protect the integrity of samples and the data?

The integrity of the groundwater samples our research scientist partners collect is fundamental and a rigorous methodology is applied to every sample. This includes: 

  • a unique barcode that is placed on the sample bottles for each individual borehole
  • a custom app to scan and log the bottles once the sample is collected
  • the use of ice to ensure the quality and parameters of the samples remain constant
  • delivery (by car or plane) of the samples to the ISO accredited laboratory for testing within 48 hours.

A paperwork ‘chain of custody’ is also completed at each step of the sample’s journey from aquifer to bottle to lab.

How do you ensure the results are impartial and independent?

We partner with qualified and accredited consultants to help deliver our groundwater monitoring program. The results are peer-reviewed before being submitted to regulators who can also arrange a separate peer-review of their own.

Are the results of your groundwater monitoring made public?

Yes! We publish the results of our groundwater monitoring program on our website here.