What Is Sustainable Mining?
16 June 2021
What Is Sustainable Mining?
Sustainable mining is when we conduct essential resource extraction while improving social, economic and environmental outcomes. Australia is a world leader in sustainable mining, and we at Bravus Mining & Resources endorse and commit to this responsible approach.
We are shown our resolve to maximise the benefits to society from our resources and energy operations.
So what does this involve? For us, it means more than having a mine site where people’s safety and security is paramount. It goes beyond maintaining our social licence through adherence to environmental and community regulations.
At Bravus, we share a commitment to making a positive contribution to our communities locally and globally.
We have a safety culture and work together with our contractors to generate secure production. We create jobs and opportunities for people across regional areas and Australia, while providing royalty and tax contributions for a wider benefit. And we adhere to the strict environmental regulations that guide our protection of our local ecosystems.
Our Carmichael Project in central Queensland, for example, is subject to more than 100 regulations that have been upheld by multiple court challenges.
This means we monitor and manage groundwater, we support Brigalow ecosystems, and we take extraordinary steps to protect the Black Throated Finch.
And our Rugby Run solar farm generates enough energy to power 23,000 homes and businesses.
This is sustainable mining.
What Is Sustainable Mining?
This contends that sustainable development “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
For mining and resources, this means being financially profitable, technically appropriate, environmentally sound and socially responsible. It involves the responsible management of “the triple bottom line” of economic development, environmental impact and social concerns.
For mining organisations, we are also focused on safety of our workers and the community.
At Bravus we have a strong focus on sustainability throughout our operations and beyond. Expert scientists and environmental engineers wrote our environment plans and strategies, many of which were also reviewed by independent specialists.
These are guiding the development and construction of the Carmichael Project.
Once mining operations are underway, we will contribute $100,000 each year for a decade to advance research to enhance protection and long-term conservation of the southern Black-throated Finch, Brigalow ecosystem, the Ornamental snake, the southern Squatter pigeon, the Waxy cabbage palm, and the Yakka skink.
Is Sustainable Mining Possible?
Sustainable mining is possible and we’re doing it right now. Resources companies are working to prioritise sustainable practices across their mines. This involves a focus on safety, economy, resource efficiency, the environment, and the community.
In mining, safety is critical. Staff and contractors are reminded of our safety-first mentality across all sites. We have risk management systems, regular assessments and ongoing training.
We aim to leverage the economic benefits from our operations. By January 2021, Bravus’ Carmichael Project created more than 2000 jobs and signed more than $1.5 billion in contracts. This included more than 88 per cent ($1.32bn) in Queensland-based operations, creating opportunities in regional towns.
Once operational from late 2021, the Carmichael mine will optimise coal extraction using contemporary mining techniques and technologies.
Effective environmental practice is vital. Queensland and Australian Governments authorised environmental impact statements before the mine’s construction. For example, Bravus will monitor groundwater at 135 sites for water flows and quality.
Finally, we work to ensure benefits from our operations are spread throughout the community. As an example, we have engaged Woongal Environmental Services, a company chaired by Gooreng descendant of the Port Curtis Coral Coast Nation, Tony Johnson, as part of our environmental management.
Is Mining in Australia Sustainable?
Australia’s mining industry boasts globally leading technology and sustainability. Strong regulatory requirements and community standards have led to effective mitigation and management of potential negative impacts at contemporary mines.
We acknowledge that mining operations in Australia have not always been conducted with sustainability in mind. A Queensland Treasury report estimated about 9 per cent of disturbed land had been rehabilitated. Abandoned sites such as North Queensland’s Mary Kathleen uranium mine and township have been transformed into Insta-famous ghost towns.
But now community and environmental considerations are critical when planning, developing, and operating mines across the country. The Minerals Council of Australia’s Enduring Value Framework For Sustainable Development guides mining companies on how to apply International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) Sustainable Development Framework Principles in their operations.
The new Towards Sustainable Mining system aims to improve safety, sustainability and ESG performance at a site level. The system includes transparency through regular reporting and an interest advisory panel.
Part of the development of Australia’s sustainable mining sector has been the development of our internationally-leading innovation and research and development. The METS (mining equipment, technology and services) sector is an acknowledged world leader.
In fact, Australian mining operations are exporting their knowledge and expertise internationally. From environmental and water management, to community engagement and technological advancements, when people ask, “Is mining in Australia sustainable”, the answer is yes.
The Importance of Responsible Mining Solutions in Australia
Responsible and sustainable mining is imperative for our future development. Mining and resources companies develop and extract the materials and energy we rely on for our day-to-day lives.
Coal currently makes up about 60 per cent of Australia’s ever-increasing electricity consumption, which has increased 70 per cent since 1990. Australians use more energy per person that most other countries internationally. So while we are transitioning to a more renewable-focused energy mix, such as Bravus’ Rugby Run solar farm, baseload power is supplied dominated by coal. This enables us all to perform our day-to-day activities, and even to power electric cars as a cleaner alternative to petrol-powered vehicles.
Australia’s energy resources will also help power other countries who need additional resources. In India, for example, where a significant proportion of the coal from the Carmichael Mine will be utilised, 22 per cent of energy is derived from biofuels and waste-burning. In 2017, about 170 million people still had no access to electricity and reliability was an ongoing issue.
Sustainable mining that mitigates and manages risks while delivering economic and social returns is a critical part of our society, both locally and globally.
How Does Sustainable Underground Mining Work?
As resources are extracted and become more difficult to access, more underground mines have been developed with further extraction.
Underground mines have an added focus on safety, given the potential risk inherent in their operations. This has prompted innovations in mining and resources including increased use of sensors, robots, remote monitoring and autonomous vehicles and machinery.
Innovation through Australia’s METS sector has been world-leading, and together with the mining sector supports about 1.1 million jobs and an estimated 15% of our national gross domestic product.
These mines can be in remote parts of the country. This brings economic development to the region, and beyond, providing jobs for regional communities.
Environmental considerations, including progressive rehabilitation, are also paramount in ensuring sustainable underground mining.
How Are Mining Companies Being Environmentally Responsible?
For mining companies operating in Australia, being environmentally and socially responsible is not just good business, it’s core business. Responsible mining solutions for safety, economic development of communities, efficient extraction techniques and technologies, comprehensive environmental safeguards, and community engagement are all part of our planning and operations from the development of mines to their end of life.
At Bravus we have demonstrated our ongoing commitment to Australia. We spent a decade working and investing to develop our resources projects, which contribute to the overall energy mix. Our approach is to deliver effective, enduring benefits for our communities and our local environments. We do this by respecting our employees, contractors and the Traditional Owners of the land.
We aim to ensure safety. Everyone who enters the site does a full safety induction to ensure their own safety and that of others. This includes a Field Leadership Program for mine and rail operations, and the introduction of the Rsured platform for safety and health management.
Our communities benefit from our operations through economic development, opportunities and jobs. So far on central Queensland’s Carmichael Project, for example, we have generated more than 2000 direct jobs, more than the original target, with an expected 9000 additional positions that have flowed from those roles. This includes apprentices and trainees, as well as jobs with competitive salaries in regional areas. More than $1.5bn has been awarded in contracts for the project.
Our important Indigenous Participation Plan is also creating positive impacts for our community. Bravus is on track to meet our targets of $7.5m worth of Indigenous education bursaries and pre-employment programs, at least one in 10 traineeships allocated to Indigenous people and a minimum 7.5 per cent Indigenous employment target. We’re also on our way to spending $250m with Indigenous contracting and business development. This supports our community and builds practical outcomes.
Efficient extraction of our resources is important to support sustainable mining. Initial studies show the quality of the coal from Carmichael Mine will be high, while the volume of waste material is relatively low. The resulting low-strip ratio means the coal dug out will be in the lowest cost quartile. This is an important responsible mining solution.
Environmental sustainability has been paramount since we arrived in Australia to develop our projects. In addition to the more than 100 management plans and strategies Bravus has developed for the Carmichael Project, we are also undertaking site-specific works to minimise carbon emissions. We minimise truck haulage routes and use solar-generated energy to power radio communications. And from the beginning of the mine’s planning, we have been preparing for its rehabilitation. This will be done progressively with ongoing restoration of disturbed land from exploration to mine construction and development.
And one of the most important elements of our sustainable approach to mining, is our belief in supporting our community in central and north Queensland. Our Community Partnerships Program has contributed more than $1.5m to more than 50 local organisations from hospital equipment to swimming pool upgrades and drought relief. We’ve upgraded local roads and working with local suppliers and organisations to build the grow the benefits of resources.
For Bravus, sustainable mining is critical. We have always believed in responsible mining and energy production, with companies working in partnership with communities to generate positive outcomes. As we enter the next phase of Bravus’ operations in Australia, once coal production starts at the end of 2021, we remain committed to a sustainable mining future.