Latest News

Aussie Mining sustainability discussed in Chile

David Welsh, Sinclair Knight Merz Minmetal’s Operations Centre Manager, Water and Environment, will be presenting on mining sustainability issues at the Mine Closure Conference in Santiago, Chile, 16 — 19 October, 2007.

Mr Welsh said that sustainability in mining could only be achieved by addressing the fundamental aspects of social, environmental and economic impact.

“Incorporating aspects such as community engagement, addressing climate change, utilising a sustainability tool to select preferred options for mine design and mine void modelling are just some of the practices which can be applied to achieve sustainable mining outcomes,” Mr Welsh said.

“Being innovative in mining environmental management is also essential.”

Mr Welsh said that an example of innovative environmental mining management was exercised by SKM on the Millmerran Coal Mine project in Queensland.

“In this case, we were faced with the issue of disposing of ash residue, the by-product of burning coal in the power station.

“The community was concerned that the usual practice of disposing the ash into an ash dam could result in groundwater contamination.

“We identified a solution of burying the ash back in the mine, just below the root line of plants and well above the groundwater level, forming a ‘cement’ sandwich which wouldn’t leach into the water supply nor damage the flora.

“In doing so, we addressed the three areas of sustainability — socially, by allaying the fears of the local community; environmentally, by avoiding water pollution and damage to flora; and economically, by reducing the cost of having to create an ash dam.”

In another example of innovation in environmental mining management, SKM utilised GIS data to map 30 years of tree loss in Australia, as a way of measuring its effect on greenhouse gas emissions. It was the largest remote sensing project in Australia. The information can be used to inform tree clearing practices in mining areas, to achieve a more sustainable result.

Send this to a friend