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What is Groundwater Monitoring?

28 March 2023

What is Groundwater Monitoring?

What Is Groundwater Monitoring?

Water is a precious resource. The water that accumulates underground after rain is known as groundwater and it is an important source of water for communities, farmers and local ecosystems across Australia.

To protect these resources, scientific studies of groundwater - called groundwater monitoring - are undertaken. So, what is groundwater monitoring?

Groundwater monitoring uses science and technology to observe, protect and better understand underground water sources.

At Bravus Mining and Resources, we use sophisticated and science-backed groundwater monitoring technologies to monitor and manage the health of the groundwater resources in and around the Carmichael mine in central Queensland.

Like any other mine in Australia, water use is strictly regulated and how we manage, use and protect water is conditioned in our environmental approvals.

We are proud of our commitment to protecting the local ecosystems around our operations and groundwater monitoring is an important part of our responsible management of water resources at the Carmichael mine.

What is Groundwater?

Groundwater is the water that seeps underground and accumulates in cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock.

It is stored in, and slowly moves through, geologic rock formations called aquifers.

While some sources of groundwater are salty and brackish, others are suitable for drinking. Groundwater is an important resource for communities across Australia for domestic, farming and commercial purposes.

In Australia, groundwater is a critical water source, accounting  for 30 per cent of water consumption and making up approximately 17 per cent of accessible water sources.

With Australia home to many semi-arid to arid climates where there is insufficient rainfall, groundwater is an important water source.

Groundwater is also an important resource for ecosystems across the country.

In central Queensland, the Doongmabulla Springs are home to a variety of native plant and animal species that depend on groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin.

The Springs are more than eight kilometres from the Carmichael Mine boundary and 11kms from any mining activity.

However, Bravus Mining and Resources conducts extensive, detailed groundwater monitoring to ensure this important ecosystem is protected.

In fact, Bravus monitors groundwater health at sites 35kms from the open cut mine. So how do we monitor groundwater? Read on for an insight into the scientific process for monitoring and maintaining groundwater health.

What Is Groundwater Monitoring?

Groundwater monitoring is the process of collecting and analysing samples of groundwater to observe, record and monitor water quality.

Through this scientific study of groundwater, environmental experts can monitor the health of groundwater sources and ensure they continue to be protected.

What is groundwater monitoring used for? Groundwater monitoring is important to assess the quality of the resource, as it is vulnerable to contamination from heavy metals and pesticides as well as to acidity and salinity. This can risk human and animal health and lead to economic consequences.

Groundwater monitoring techniques: What is the process for water assessments?

Groundwater monitoring involves drilling a number of bore holes at strategic locations to extract groundwater for testing at periodic intervals.

Usually, a sample of boreholes will include some at very deep levels and others at a shallower level to ensure a clear picture of the aquifer is obtained.

Above-ground water monitoring is another groundwater monitoring technique.

These measurements can give an insight into the water levels in the aquifer and the water samples are also tested in a laboratory to check salinity, acidity and any other potential contaminants.

Computer models and experts check this data against the baseline for the water source to see if anything has changed.

If there are any warning signs of impacts to the aquifer, environmental experts can then take action to remedy and prevent any further damage.

In Queensland, there are strict rules around groundwater monitoring for resources projects as managed by the Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment.

Resources projects must assess their potential impacts on groundwater sources and account for how they plan to monitor and manage these as part of the process to have a mining operation approved. Protecting groundwater at Bravus Mining and Resources is an important part of our environmental management and our groundwater monitoring over the last two years has shown the Carmichael Mine is fully compliant with its strict environmental approvals.

How Does Bravus Monitor Groundwater?

Bravus Mining and Resources has an industry-leading water monitoring program designed to protect local groundwater sources.

Our actions are set out in a Groundwater Management and Monitoring Plan and Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan.

Both of these plans were independently reviewed by the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia and approved by the Australian and Queensland governments.

Protecting groundwater at Bravus Mining and Resources is an important part of our strict environmental approvals and we are committed to using leading science and best practice.

Adani (Bravus) Groundwater Management and Monitoring Program 

Prior to any mining activities at the Carmichael Mine, when the approvals were sought by Adani Australia, more than ten years of baseline groundwater data was collected to inform our strategies.

More than 120 monitoring bores were drilled in and around the mining lease site and operations, with some located as far as 35km away from the open cut mine.

While there are a number of bores on our mining and pastoral leases, there are also water quality monitoring bores at neighbouring landholders’ properties.

The monitoring bores were drilled to specific depths, with some as deep as 600 metres below the ground and others less than 15 metres below ground level.

Groundwater monitoring reports at Bravus

Every two months, experienced hydrologists work with Traditional Owners and regulators to collect and record groundwater data, which is reported to both Bravus and the relevant regulators to check any groundwater drawdown impacts.

Bravus uses in-built early warning triggers to monitor the health of the ecosystem and protect the Doongmabulla Springs Complex.

These systems allow us to take action to ensure the springs never drop below 20cms and any triggers are reported within 10 days and investigated within 14 days.

The water samples are also sent to a National Association of Testing Authorities accredited laboratory for testing against 40 different water quality parameters.

These include pH levels, electrical conductivity and dissolved oxygen to total dissolved solids, major cations and ions, dissolved metals, and total petroleum hydrocarbons.

With more than two years of data now analysed, and available on our website, the evidence shows the Carmichael mine is fully compliant against its strict environmental approvals. Water is a precious resource and Bravus is committed to its sustainable use in our daily operations.

Learn More About Groundwater Monitoring at Bravus

Bravus Mining and Resources uses best practice groundwater monitoring to ensure the ongoing health of the groundwater resources in and around our Carmichael mine.

Groundwater monitoring is conducted regularly and scientifically and ensures both Bravus and the appropriate regulators have a real-time clear picture of groundwater sources.

Our environmental team and research scientist partners work with neighbouring landholders, Traditional Owners, and regulators to conduct monitoring through an extensive network of monitoring bores around the Carmichael mine.

Water is a precious resource and Bravus Mining and Resources is committed to using it responsibly and caring for the local environment, including groundwater sources.

Learn more about how we monitor groundwater and water management at the Carmichael Mine.