Environmental management

Our approach
Water management
Mineral waste
Non-mineral waste
Land, biodiversity and cultural heritage management
Energy use, greenhouse gas emissions
Air quality management
Noise and vibration
Mine closure planning

For our performance see our Sustainability Report.

 

Our approach

MMG is committed to minimising our environmental footprint and use of natural resources. Our approach to environmental management is based on the principles of ISO14001:2016 and ISO31000:2009. It involves identifying and controlling material environmental risk events across all phases of our business from exploration through to development, operation and closure, and ongoing review of control effectiveness.

  

Water management

Mining and minerals extraction are water-intensive processes and the efficient performance of our operations relies on our ability to source water of appropriate quality and quantity.

In designing our water management approach to meet operational requirements, we consider:

  • climate
  • water supply availability
  • environmental flow requirements, and 
  • competing uses, including the needs of our host communities.

Where possible we seek to improve the efficiency of our water use and maximise water recycling. This reduces the need to source new water from local catchments and forms an important part of our approach to managing onsite water inventories.

We make strategic and investment planning decisions related to water management infrastructure as part of our life-of-asset and closure planning processes.

We aim to continuously improve our management of material water risk events to achieve positive environmental, social and production outcomes. We do this by establishing clear accountabilities for regularly reviewing our water balance models and measuring the effectiveness of our critical water management controls. We recognise there are ongoing opportunities to improve the way we manage and engage with stakeholders on water-related risks and opportunities at a catchment level.

Our water balance models and control plans are designed to minimise the need to treat and discharge water. We do this by diverting excess water around our operational areas and reusing process water where possible. However some of our operations are located in environments where rainfall far exceeds evaporation, and consequently our processing areas capture more rainfall than we need for our processing requirements. Our water management infrastructure allows us to separate contact and non-contact water and retain and treat water prior to reuse or release to the environment through authorised discharge points.

All our workers have access to clean drinking water and gender-appropriate sanitation facilities. We also support social programs that contribute to improving drinking water security and sanitation in our local communities.

MMG is a member of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA). We support the work of these Councils in their engagement with governments and other stakeholders in developing effective water governance approaches.

We report our water inputs, outputs and diversions in our annual Sustainability Report in line with the MCA Water Accounting Framework.


Employees conducting water monitoring at Sepon.

 

Mineral waste

Mining and processing activities generate mineral waste. Mineral wastes include:

  • waste rock extracted during the mining process, and 
  • tailings which are the residue of process water and minerals that remains after processing.

Some of this mineral waste is chemically reactive and has the potential to form acid and metalliferous drainage (AMD). This can negatively impact water quality and the success of land rehabilitation if not identified early and managed effectively.

In implementing our control plans we focus on characterising mineral waste and managing its storage to limit environmental impact and minimise operating and closure costs.

We manage waste rock by:

  • using it as underground mine backfill
  • stockpiling it where there is potential to extract metal value in the future and/or
  • placing it in surface waste rock dump landforms.

We aim to minimise the amount of waste rock in surface landforms at closure. While some operations will be required to design closure strategies to manage historical legacies associated with waste rock placement, recent waste rock dumps at Rosebery and Las Bambas have been designed for closure from the outset.

We manage tailings in tailings storage facilities (TSF). Our critical controls for managing the risk of tailings dam failure focus on the design, construction and ongoing management of operating and non-operating tailings dams, and are in line with the Australian National Committee on Large Dams (ANCOLD) guidelines. We monitor the implementation of these controls to provide management with assurance that the right actions are occurring over time to keep the risk under control.

While we have made ongoing improvements in tailings management over a number of years, the failure of the Bento Rodrigues dam in Brazil in November 2015 reinvigorated our efforts to confirm we have the most effective governance strategy in place to prevent a tailings dam failure.

We have been contributing to the ICMM’s global review of TSF standards and governance, critical control strategies, and emergency preparedness approaches since December 2015.

In late 2016 we reviewed our governance structure for tailings dam risk management. We used this process to confirm that functional and site level risk-owners have the level of seniority, objectivity and technical expertise appropriate for the size and risk rating of the TSF facilities they oversee. At Las Bambas we have an external Dam Review Committee to complement our internal expertise. We plan to adopt a similar approach for each of the other regions in which we operate. 

 

Waste rock dump trial pad at Rosebery. 

 

 

Non-mineral waste

Non-mineral wastes include oils and general refuse. We comply with all local jurisdictional requirements regarding waste characterisation, hazardous waste transport and management, and onsite waste disposal facility design, management and closure.

 

Land, biodiversity and cultural heritage management

We manage large areas of land for exploration and operational activities, including some areas of high biodiversity and/or conservation value. In addition, some of our local communities derive food, fuel, medicine and spiritual value from the plants and animals found in the areas that we operate. Consistent with our ICMM commitment, we do not explore or mine within the boundaries of United Nations Educational, Scientific andCultural Organization’s (UNESCO) ‘World Heritage List’ properties.

Land clearing is a necessary part of our development and operational activities. We aim to minimise our impacts on the landscape, ecosystems and cultural heritage values. We undertake baseline studies and surveys, often in collaboration with local stakeholders, to identify land values. Where impacts to biodiversity values are unavoidable, we relocate species (e.g. Kinsevere and Las Bambas) and/or implement biodiversity offset projects (e.g. Dugald River) in accordance with management plans developed with expert input.  Where cultural heritage values are identified, we engage with local community representatives to determine the most appropriate management actions.

Land management is an integral part of our life-of-asset planning and closure planning and provisioning processes. Our operations undertake relatively minor progressive annual rehabilitation since disturbed areas are largely limited to operational areas which are in use, or will be used in the future. Our operations seek to minimise their impact on the environment and the community from open areas of disturbed land by implementing their management plans. This includes managing drainage and erosion and controlling dust, and may include temporary revegetation.

We rehabilitate land when it is no longer required for future mining activities.  We design our rehabilitation programs to achieve set objectives in relation to proposed final land use and we monitor rehabilitation success over time (e.g. monitoring of the Hercules site since 2004).

As an ICMM member we support its work in engaging with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), governments and other stakeholders on land use planning and biodiversity conservation.

Progressive rehabilitation at Sepon.

 

Energy use and greenhouse gas emissions

“Leading practice energy management is defined as the best way to improve the energy performance of a given site in a way that best contributes to its business objectives”  Leading Practice Sustainable Development Program Handbook on Energy Management in Mining, 2016. 

We optimise the efficient use of energy and minimise greenhouse gas emissions through our ongoing efforts to improve asset utilisation, business efficiency and operating costs.

We need access to a secure supply of energy for our continued growth. Factors influencing our long-term energy security include:

  • increased regional demand for energy,
  • local power generation and transmission supply issues,
  • changes in climate, and 
  • political and regulatory uncertainties.

We address these risks by improving the energy efficiency of our operations and negotiating long-term contracts with energy providers.

Renewable energy (hydropower) is the main source of our purchased electricity at Las Bambas, Sepon, Kinsevere and Rosebery. This has a positive impact on our greenhouse gas emissions profile. 

We report our energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Australian government’s National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 and our materiality-based sustainability reporting processes.

We are a financial supporter of the Coalition for Energy Efficient Comminution (CEEC), a global not for profit organisation that aims to reduce energy usage associated with the most energy-intense processes in the mining lifecycle – grinding and crushing.

We engage with our stakeholders on climate change issues through industry associations such as the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) and the ICMM. As an ICMM and MCA member, we support the work of the two Councils in their engagement with governments and other stakeholders in the development of effective climate change policies and regulations.
 

Air quality management

The bulk of our emissions to air are generated by heavy mobile equipment used for mining, product transport, primary crushing and onsite power generation.

We strive to be as efficient as possible in our combustion of fuel to manage costs and preserve a healthy working environment for our workers (particularly those working underground). We consider environmental and health implications in our supply contracts for equipment, electricity and fuel via our procurement processes.

We continuously improve our management of the nuisance impacts from dust generated by our activities. This includes watering heavy haul roads to keep dust to a minimum for surrounding communities and supporting the Government in the progressive sealing of roads (e.g. Las Bambas).

We report our emissions in accordance with the Australian government’s National Pollutant Inventory emission estimation techniques and our materiality-based sustainability reporting processes.

 

Noise and vibration 

We identify the major sources of noise and vibration related to our activities and assess their potential impacts on the environment and local communities through monitoring and engagement processes. This informs the design and implementation of critical control plans to reduce identified risks.

 

Mine closure planning

We are committed to minimising the legacy impacts on the environment post-closure of our operational activities.  We adopt a life-of-asset approach to closure planning which includes technical assessment, forecasting, and consulting with relevant stakeholders. The content and level of detail in our Closure Plans depends on the timeframe to closure and decommissioning of the asset.  We focus our business resources on assets within five years of expected closure.

We also aim to manage the impacts of mine closure on employees, host communities and economic development through our workforce transition strategies and the social development programs we implement during operations. By aligning our social development programs with our Life-of-Asset Plans we are focusing on longer-term economic development which is not reliant on mining and can be sustained post-closure.

Refer to our annual Sustainability report for case studies on mine closure planning.

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