Environmental surveys help monitor the health of our local ecosystems

Our Mount Isa Mines Sulphur Dioxide Environmental Impact Monitoring Program ensures flora and fauna surveys are conducted around the Mount Isa region on a two-year rotational basis, with birds, geckos and ants the focus of this year's study.

Our Environmental team proactively carry out studies to assess potential impacts on the receiving area surrounding our mining and processing activities. These studies include surveys of native wildlife in the area.

During October and November, members of our Environmental team, together with Ecologists from COOE Environmental Consulting, conducted nocturnal studies of birds and geckos at 55 sites, spanning a 20 kilometre radius around Mount Isa Mines, including Rifle Creek, Haslingden and May Downs Stations.

The nightly spotlighting surveys were undertaken in shifts and are designed to assess the diversity and abundance of bird and gecko populations.

Due to their abundance in the region, ants, birds and geckos are useful bio-indicators of the quality of the ecosystems in and around Mount Isa Mines.

Geckos are the most diverse group of reptiles in the region while birds are easily detectable, occupying positions high in the food chain making them sensitive to any changes in the environment, in particular to their diet and nutrition sources such as insects.

David Logan, Senior Environmental Advisor says the 2019 surveys went well with the team achieving all of its objectives.

"An exciting highlight for the team was spotting the less commonly sighted Kalkadoon Grasswren which is only found in Australia around Mount Isa along the hill range extending north to south on Mount Isa Mines lease," David says.

"These ground-dwelling birds predominantly rely on spinifex for food and shelter."

"Other less frequently sighted bird species observed throughout the survey included the Varied Sittella, Black-Tailed Treecreeper and the Australian Ringneck, while there was an abundance of Rufous Whistler, Cockatiel, Yellow-Throated Miner and Zebra Finch."

"We also achieved really good results with the gecko survey, spotting the Gehyra genus which lives in trees and the most prolific species detected."

"One of the major highlights included observations of the Gulf Fat-Tailed gecko which is a rare species that is poorly known and found in rocky habitats," says David.

Mount Isa Mines has been undertaking flora and fauna surveys since 2015. This year's data will be analysed and the results compared against previous baseline studies to determine any impact on the receiving environment.

In 2020, the flora assessment component of the ongoing Sulphur Dioxide Environmental Impact Monitoring Program will be completed.