Glencore primed and prepared to handle the wet season
Rain, flash flooding, storms, lightning, bushfires, cyclones and damaging winds – welcome to summer in North Queensland.
Last year's devastating floods from Townsville to Hughenden, Richmond, Julia Creek and Cloncurry was a harsh reminder of the importance in preparing for extreme weather events across our operations.
Our region can experience unpredictable and severe weather conditions during the monsoonal wet season, which generally occurs between October until April each year, with the majority of rain typically falling from December to February.
It's not a matter of if, but rather when significant weather events happen in Queensland and the best way to manage these is to have appropriate plans in place before they occur.
Our Environmental teams, together with our operational areas, are ready to manage the seasonal wet weather, with scheduled pre-wet season preparations well underway to manage and protect our people and assets.
While this year the onset of the wet season has been late, regular inspections are being carried out and maintenance undertaken to ensure our infrastructure is operating at capacity to manage rainfall events and minimise the potential for water to discharge from our sites.
Each of our operations across North Queensland has their own unique site characteristics that present particular challenges which the Environmental team is equipped to deal with in preparation for the wet season.
Mount Isa Mines
Anne Williams, Superintendent – Environment Strategy & Regulation, Mount Isa Mines says significant works have been completed throughout 2019 to improve storm water management systems and ensure our containment systems are ready.
"George Fisher Mine has undertaken extensive civil works and installed additional pumping capacity across multiple catchment areas to improve capture of mine affected water onsite," says Anne.
"There has also been a concerted effort at Lady Loretta Mine following the significant rainfalls in February last year to reduce dam levels to maximise the containment of water this wet season."
"The dam levels have been reduced through evaporation sprays, reuse in the processes and use for dust suppression."
"We also undertake routine activities such as inspections of dam integrity and capacity, and ensure pumping infrastructure and monitoring equipment is working effectively."
"We run a water balance weekly, and following rain events, to confirm that our stormwater management systems are meeting containment requirements," Anne says.
Our 37 authorised release locations have a respective Trigger Action Response Plan which details actions required to be undertaken to ensure the system is monitored and managed to reduce the risk of release from site during a rainfall event.
Ernest Henry Mining
Liam Holmes HSE Business Partner for Ernest Henry Mining (EHM) says inspections have been carried out across EHM and Mount Margaret as part of annual pre-wet season checks ensuring we are prepared for significant rain events.
"Prior to the wet season our Environment team examine the sediment dams, drainage lines, bunding, stormwater weirs and updated our automatic samplers," says Liam.
"Maintenance of storm water infrastructure is carried out across both leases with the help of the Surface Operations team".
"We have updated our water balance model and, as a result, increased our water holding capacity as well as our pumping capacity to manage mine affected water from escaping from site."
Copper Refineries Limited (CRL) and Townsville Port
Justin May, Senior Environmental Advisor Townsville Operations says the planning for the coming wet has been thorough across both CRL and our Port Operations.
"Particular attention has been placed on ensuring there is sufficient capacity in water storage dams, infrastructure is operational, and that sediment pits and stormwater drainage systems have been cleaned," says Justin.
CRL uses cattle to manage bushfire fuel load and cattle have been transferred to the next paddock, which allows CRL to take advantage of the coming wet and for the generation of a significant amount of feed for the herd.
"It is critical for CRL that we have an integrated approach that best uses the resources available to us, with the benefit of reducing the fire risk," Justin says.
At our Port operations, the water treatment systems, sumps and bunding structures are regularly inspected and maintained to ensure all water is contained onsite and treated before being released.