Queensland Metals operations are at the ready for a predicted increase in the number of cyclones and above average rainfall this wet season.
The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a wetter than average season for late 2020 in North Queensland. It's forecasting a very high chance of experiencing more rainfall than last season.
Severe weather caused damaging floods in many areas across North Queensland in early 2019, including Townsville, Hughenden, Richmond, Julia Creek and Cloncurry. For our Queensland Metals business, it reinforces the importance of preparing for wet season across our operations each year.
The monsoonal wet season usually happens between October and April each year, with the majority of rain typically falling from December to February.
In anticipation, our Environmental teams and operational areas have put key preparations in place to ensure we are in the best possible position to respond to significant weather events to protect our people, community and assets.
The work has included inspecting and updating stormwater infrastructure to ensure it is in good operational condition and minimise the potential for water to be discharged from our sites.
Mount Isa Mines and Lady Loretta Mine
Queensland Metals Superintendent - HSEC Environmental Operations Anne Williams says there has been a strong level commitment across our sites to ensure our water management systems are ready for the wet.
"Our water management systems are reviewed through inspections, survey and change management processes to ensure they remain fit for purpose and enable continuous improvement" says Anne.
"This year at George Fisher Mine we have upgraded some of our stormwater drains and containment systems making them more robust."
"At our Lady Loretta Mine the team have done an excellent job to prepare for the wet season; taking action to maximise available containment capacity, reducing water inventory onsite and strengthening tools to predict water management performance and implement appropriate response."
"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 authorised release locations on our Mount Isa Mines Mining Lease 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
Lead Environmental Advisor for Ernest Henry Mining (EHM) Sam Draffen says significant works have been carried out across EHM and the Mount Margaret Mine as part of annual pre-wet season preparation ensuring we are prepared for significant rain events.
"Prior to the wet season our Environmental team examine the sediment dams, drainage lines, bunding, stormwater weirs and automatic samplers," says Sam.
"Maintenance of stormwater infrastructure is carried out across both leases by the Surface Operations team."
"We have made a number of improvements to our water management infrastructure in 2020, including construction of an additional large containment dam to provide greater capacity to retain water onsite."
"Other improvements have included updating our water balance model and automating stormwater pumping systems ahead of the wet season," Sam says.
Copper Refineries Limited and Townsville Port Operations
Senior Environmental Advisor at our Townsville Operations Justin May 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.
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.
Disclaimer: This article was first published on Mount Isa Mines newsletter, Resourceful.
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