We are mindful of the impact of our operations on the environment and surrounding communities and undergo extensive assessments for surface water, groundwater, flood impact, flora and fauna, Aboriginal cultural heritage, historical heritage, air quality, agriculture and geochemistry impacts
As Whitehaven has grown as a business, we have worked to ensure the business maintains strong sustainability practices throughout every stage of the mining process, from prior to commencement, during operations until well after eventual close.
Each Whitehaven operation also implements rehabilitation plans, working to minimise potential impacts on the local environment and where appropriate returns mining areas to pre-mining vegetation communites such as pastoral, woodland and forest for future use.
Air emissions from Whitehaven’s coal mines are tightly regulated. All coal mines have in place systems for monitoring and managing air quality, particularly dust from excavation and haul truck activity and emissions arising from the use of explosives.
Monitoring results are made available through each site’s Community Consultative Committee and on our website.
Each of our operations are guided by site-specific Water Management Plans.
In FY2017 Whitehaven’s total water allocation across our operations was 9,804 megalitres. The total amount used was 3,649 megalitres – around a third of our available allocation.
Much of the water used by our operations is obtained from rainfall captured in dams at our sites and is used to assist mining activities, coal washing and dust suppression. Mine water cannot be released off site except on certain regulated occasions at our Werris Creek operation. Sediment laden water is permitted to be released following certain rainfall events or under controlled release scenarios where the water quality complies with strict criteria.
The Company is operating under stringent noise guidelines, set by the NSW Government. A number of sites utilise predictive meteorological systems to plan operations to minimise noise impacts
Real-time monitoring is in place to allow oursite-based staff to undertake adaptive management to minimise noise impacts. The Company also implements a range of other noise management measures such as sound attenuation on mining equipment.
Waste and Recycling
Whitehaven generates various types of waste during exploration, construction, operation and closure activities across its mining facilities.
Our strategy for mineral waste management includes segregation and placement of overburden and coal reject materials in waste emplacements which are designed to be safe, stable and non-polluting.
Wherever possible Whitehaven segregates recyclable materials and engages specialist contractors for collection and reprocessing.
Most of the land we own and lease is not involved in mining activities. The majority is set aside as biodiversity offsets or is licensed to local farmers for productive agricultural activities. About two per cent, or less than 2,000 hectares of our land is involved in current mining activities or is being rehabilitated after mining.
Where industry activity intersects with agriculture, Whitehaven seeks to put land to productive use. Nearly 30,000 hectares of land are being used for agricultural purposes. This can include arrangements with previous managers of the land to continue grazing or cropping. This ensures non-mining land continues to contribute to a diverse local economy.
Whitehaven has more than 20,000 hectares of land that are being managed as biodiversity offset areas. These areas are established conservation areas to offset impacts which cannot be avoided, managed or mitigated due to the nature of the coal resource.
These offset areas are based on guidance from independent experts and regulatory authorities to ensure they represent likefor-like or better biodiversity values than the area impacted by operations.
This years significant offset-related work has been undertaken:
- 668 hectares rehabilitated
- 160,000 trees planted in offset areas
- An additional 937 hectares of revegetation has been prepared
- 16.8 kilometres of new fencing installed
- 76 kilometres of old fencing removed
- 11,000 hectares sprayed for weed control.
Whitehaven applies an integrated approach to land management to ensure responsible rehabilitation practices are reflected throughout every stage of the mining life cycle.
Where applicable, disturbed land is generally rehabilitated to align with pre-mining vegetation communities such as pasture, woodland and forest. Rehabilitation monitoring is conducted in accordance with each site’s Mining Operations Plan and relevant management plans.
Closure plans and financial provisions to execute these plans are developed and maintained for all of Whitehaven’s sites. Closure planning plays an important role in the planning and development of Whitehaven’s projects and operations to ensure that the legacy impacts of its operations are minimised.
A key component in the development and fulfilment of the Company’s closure plans is the consultation and engagement with key stakeholders to ensure that land is returned in a state that supports future opportunity and longterm benefit. Whitehaven’s closure plans are subject to external review and approval.