Evolution incorporates environmental considerations into all areas of our business to effectively manage environmental impacts and risks. We have developed an Environment and Sustainability Policy that we expect our people and contractors to adhere to.
We believe we have an obligation to not only achieve legislative compliance but to strive for best practice and to meet the expectations of the communities we operate within and are part of.
We developed and implemented 11 Environmental Protocols to hold us to a higher standard of environmental performance and to create a clear and open community accountability framework.
We are focussed on enhancing environmental stewardship through the development and implementation of our Environmental Protocols and
Life of Mine Environmental Management Plans across all project sites. We undertake periodic reviews to ensure that our environmental performance targets and objectives are being achieved.
At our Cowal operation, we have received ISO14001 certification for Mining and Ore Processing Operations and Support Services for Gold and Silver production.
Our environmental care and culture is based on:
Our Environmental Protocols consist of 11 benchmarks for best practice management in key business risk areas, such as Waste Rock Management, Cyanide Management and Mine Closure and Rehabilitation. All our sites and workplaces are required to meet the protocol requirements, which are audited on a regular basis.
1. Air quality
All Evolution operations develop, implement, communicate and adhere to their air quality management plan that includes strategies, operational controls and management practices. We develop and implement monitoring/inspections programs to verify that air emission controls are operating properly and to provide relevant, traceable data for internal and external reporting. We manage point and non-point source air emissions to be protective of human health and the environment.
Ambient dust, noise, odour and spill light impacts on our surrounds are closely monitored. Protection of our social licence to operate means that we operate beyond compliance in these areas within our community surroundings. We report our air emissions as per legal and other requirements and communicate the outcomes at various consultative forums.
Cowal celebrated the start of its fourteenth year on the Community Environmental Management Consultative Committee (CEMCC). A standard meeting Agenda including air quality is discussed every quarterly meeting. The Minutes of the Cowal CEMCC are available on the Bland Shire Council website.
Each of our operations has a weather station to monitor and record local meteorological parameters.
7. Waste rock management
Our protocol applies to the design, construction, rehabilitation and closure phases of our operations regarding waste rock disposal facilities and other infrastructure utilising waste rock for construction (eg haul roads and dams), and ore stockpiles (related to their potential to generate acid mine drainage (AMD) or salinity impacts). This addresses characterisation of waste rock, design and construction of waste rock disposal facilities, potential acid generation, storm-water controls, monitoring, rehabilitation and closure.
Where applicable (not all our operations have AMD potential), a balance of potentially problematic material and material suitable for construction generating material are developed to evaluate and design controls to isolate problematic materials from the receiving environment
in the near and long term through the individual mine planning review cycle. The balance is updated annually to assess the adequacy of available material for rehabilitation program needs and eventual site facility closure.
Where Potentially Acid Forming waste rock is suspected or known to occur, the operation will place it inside and under Non-Acid Forming covers.
Progressive rehabilitation activities shall be conducted as areas of the waste disposal facility become available. Rehabilitation of these areas is conducted as soon as practicable.
2. Biodiversity management
We acknowledge that the nature of our operations can have significant environmental impacts. Additionally, our operations and growth strategy are dependent on obtaining and maintaining access to environmental resources. We believe that we all have a role in demonstrating our environmental responsibility by minimising impacts and contributing to enduring environmental benefits, through every stage of our
operations. We have developed land and biodiversity management plans at our operations. These plans and risk-based, adaptive strategies include the voluntary and prescribed biodiversity offset areas that are actively maintained for fire, pest and weed control at our operations.
8.Rehabilitation and closure management
Mining is only a temporary use of land and the project planning cycle begins way back at ensuring our minimum disturbance of ground during the exploration drilling phase (10 to 30 years), and needs to look forward to what the operation’s future land use/s will be and what
the operation should look like when the operational areas are ready for relinquishment.
An example of exploration drilling best practice is our drill site program at Puhipuhi, New Zealand. This program was planned with meticulous attention, minimising the impact of the project's footprint and ensuring prompt, successful drill site rehabilitation.
3. Chemical management
We use chemical substances to conduct efficient and safe operations across the Group. The safe transport (routes), storage, handling and use of these substances occurs for both small quantity and bulk commercial volumes. Our sites are linked to one management system that provides
employees with access to electronic and hardcopy point-of-use Manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheets. The system is maintained to provide advice and reports on segregation and stock quantities held. Only substances approved for use by the site management process team can be used.
A considerable amount of planning and maintenance occurs to maintain the integrity of storage bunds, tanks and pipework associated with the delivery, storage and use of chemicals. Each of our sites has emergency response teams and relevant jurisdictional mutual aid arrangements in place. Periodic exercise drills are executed to ensure preparedness.
Workplace risk assessments and inspections maintain focus on the prevention of leaks, spills and environmental impacts.
9. Tailing management
Tailings are the fine waste slurry residue of the crushed solid mineral ore that is fed into the Process Plant grinding mills. Tailings operations have long been a part of the minerals processing industry and will continue to exist well into the future. Whether the operation is active or closed, tailings storage facilities need to operate and rehabilitate with due care for a range of potential issues. Our protocol and governance process have been revised to incorporate the International Council on Mining and Metals six key components of the Tailings Governance Framework.
Regular inspection and audit ensure that our operations meet the requirements for the characterisation of tailings, protection of wildlife, protection of groundwater, prevention of uncontrolled releases to the environment, management of process fluids and the closure and rehabilitation of tailing storage facilities.
Tailings storage facilities are typically lined with low permeability clay soil linings which allows some seepage within a prescribed operational zone footprint. Recovery and pump-back of seepage from the near field is standard practice. Supervising engineers and Geotechnical staff monitor the integrity of tailings storage facility walls and pieziometric data relating to phreatic water levels inside the facility.
Mt Carlton operates a tailings storage facility with a dual high-density polyethylene liner system which ensures that the mobile metal forms do not enter the water table.
Evolution has conducted outer wall rock buttressing at a number of our operations. We also have a variation on tailings storage called an Integrated Waste Landform storage facility at Edna May.
Ongoing efficient recovery of tailings decant water back to the processing plant water supply is essential to manage the water balance and minimise new water intake to operations.
Management of wildlife access and safe egress from tailings storage facilities is a key business imperative for our operations. Our fresh water based operations have cyanide destruction and slurry dilution to reduce weak acid dissociable (WAD) cyanide levels to safe levels for
avifauna and terrestrial animals. Fencing, bird deterrent systems and regular monitoring and perimeter patrols provide early warning of such issues.
4. Cyanide management
Our management protocol is largely derived from the International Cyanide Management Institute (ICMI) – Cyanide Code. This applies to the purchase (production), transportation (routes and times), handling, storage, and the operation (leaching and cyanide destruct circuits) and decommissioning of cyanide facilities.
Cowal was the first process plant in the world to obtain both pre-operational and operational ICMI – Code Certification (16 April 2006) and has passed all subsequent independent Cyanide Code audits to date. We undertake annual licence to operate independent audits and triennial hazard audits of our operations.
Our operations maintain monitoring programs to detect any adverse effects to wildlife, surface water and ground water quality due to the use of cyanide. We use periodic or online measurement of Total and Weak Acid Dissociated (WAD) cyanide in slurry and water streams to remain within legal operating limits, or below accepted, peer reviewed industry practice limits for fresh and hypersaline Tailings Storage Facility or Integrated Waste Landform Decant Pond water recovery and storage pond infrastructure works.
Our cyanide management protocol sets Evolution’s requirements for cyanide management, aims to be protective of human health and wildlife, and to prevent uncontrolled releases to the environment.
10. Waste management
The on-site management of putrescible and nonputrescible waste streams has progressed to a stage where bioremediation and general landfill facilities and management practices are now relieving pressure on local government authority facilities. Generally septic waste solids are transported to local government authority facilities. An exception being that Edna May is licensed to assist the treatment of their, and some town septic waste, at the Edna May facilities in Westonia, Western Australia.
We have established an ethos to reduce, recycle and reuse our resources occurring in our normal site waste management practices. Our Act Like an Owner initiative has been very successful in identifying and implementing numerous opportunities for waste reductions. For example, the bio-remediation of hydrocarbon sludge project at Cracow which turns hydrocarbon laden sediment from the workshop sumps into soil suitable for
Operations are generally permitted under government licence (Environmental Authority) to operate onsite industrial waste landfills. Landfilling into waste rock emplacements is also an option that may be exercised in some jurisdictions. This reduces operating volume pressure on local government authority facilities and reduces transport related greenhouse emissions considerably. Mt Rawdon and Cracow commenced applications to develop and operate an onsite industrial landfill in late 2016. Cracow’s camp kitchen wastes have recently been diverted to the bioremediation facility. Camp kitchen wastes are pre-treated in the insinkeratordehydrator unit.
Hazardous material waste management
Our operations use specialist, government approved waste management service providers and tracking arrangements for the approved, safe disposal of transfers of obsolete or used hazardous material waste/dangerous goods substances. Chemicals are generally consumed in process. Hydrocarbons in the form of dirty rags, crushed oil filters, used engine coolants or used bulk lubes are typically sent for offsite under commercial service arrangements for industrial re-refining (for re-use) or conversion into energy.
5. Water management
Our water management protocol is used to manage water use and recovery in our mining and mineral processing facilities and includes probabilistic site water balance models for droughts and storm-water flows. Our operations enact seasonal preparations and routine dewatering
activities are designed and operated in a manner that observes user allocation rights, and ensures human health and the surrounding environment are protected.
Each operation has regional jurisdictional, unique hydrogeological, fresh through hypersaline surface water quality and specific site licence to operate conditions. We implement specific additional water management requirements related to mining and processing infrastructure for tailings management and waste rock management to enhance the design side for protection from unwanted events.
Operations consult with stakeholders throughout the year to maintain adequate onsite water storage and prepare for seasonal fluctuations. Site water balance models are required to be updated annually using peer review. The various streams of water (potable, reagent mixing, sewage, process circuits, thickener/ tailings recovery and incidental storm water) all receive their own special attention on site. The protocol guides operations to ensure that clean water is kept separate from contaminated water (similar strategy for solid waste management).
Our operations track fresh water (surface, groundwater and rainwater intake) and recycled water volumes. These volumes vary across the seasons of the year and are input into the site water balance models to ensure proactive, predictive controls are implemented. Variations also
occur across the years and are required to be managed.
Another key consideration for water management across the Group is to ensure the safety of wildlife around operations. Storage pond egress and summer/dry season drinking and bathing water supplies away from access roads and operational areas helps to minimise interactions.
Mt Rawdon and Mt Carlton operations use water evaporators to maintain water stock pond levels, especially in the months before the arrival of the Wet Season.
11. Energy efficiency
See tab 3 for more information
6. Hydrocarbon management
Our hydrocarbon storage tanks and conveyance systems are designed and constructed in accordance with the relevant Australian or International Standard (ie AS 1940:2004). The hydrocarbons used at our operations are approved for use via the online management system that provides employees with access to electronic and hardcopy point-of-use Manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheets.
Our site hydrocarbon storage facilities are inspected during internal site-based and corporate assurance visits and by independent external audit teams.
Our workshops and service areas (including contractors that service vehicles and/or heavy equipment) have treatment or management facilities for hydrocarbon contaminated water that meet the applicable discharge standards.
We believe we have an obligation to not only achieve legislative compliance but to strive for best practice and to meet the expectations of the communities we operate within and are part of. Implementing our Environmental Protocols holds us to a higher standard of environmental performance and creates a clear and open community accountability framework.
We are focused on enhancing environmental stewardship through the development and implementation of Evolution Environmental Protocols and Life of Mine Environmental Management Plans across all project sites.
Each year we comply with the Commonwealth National Pollution Inventory and National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER). This includes creating and submitting annual reports under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act to estimate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy use.
In FY17 we achieved our goal of implementing Environmental Enhancement projects with a primary purpose of improving or enhancing environmental values onsite or in nearby communities. We supported Edna May’s Eremophila resinosa translocation works and commenced the following three programs:
At Cowal, a Malleefowl recovery project linked to Australia’s National Recovery Program is underway. The project partners for this work are the local landholders at Tallimba and Yalgogrin, the Local Land Services – Riverina, Lake Cowal Foundation and Evolution. This project will use a PhD candidate to study and record the process journey to protect and enhance the Malleefowl population in the Bland Shire, New South Wales.
At Mt Carlton, we commenced a coastal rehabilitation project which involves mechanical, amphibious-land craft removal of aquatic water weeds (for sterile mulch composting and re-use of farms), tree planting and installation of water control gates. Holding back fresh water and allowing natural ingress of sea water into the coastal area will control the highly invasive aquatic fish pests and weeds that have built up in the Burdekin River bio-region. This project forms a component of a much larger Queensland state project to protect the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
At Mungari, we supported extension works at the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Urban Landcare Group. This project included classroom education of trainees, guided tourism walks, a native plants nursery upgrade, and rehabilitation and land care program works in the local area. Further
information can be found at http://www.kbulg.org.au/.
The Evolution Environmental Assurance Audit Program is undertaken by our corporate office. The program reviews different risk areas and aspects from the site operating licence each quarter. This assurance program assists in the effective management and monitoring of environmental risk across the organisation.
Quarterly assurance visits to our operations focused on hydrocarbon and chemical management. Small leaks and spill volumes have been focused on to ensure that incidents are being reported and the causes are promptly addressed.
Rehabilitation success and failures are reviewed with the view that other sites share the learnings during subsequent site visits or during our monthly Environmental Professional Network teleconference and our annual face-to-face gathering.
Assurance visit and audit recommendations are tracked and followed up via our company incident management system.
As part of our environmental management, our activities are governed by conditions detailed in mining approvals, lease conditions and licences set out by regulatory authorities.
Periodic voluntary independent environmental performance audits are also conducted. Cowal has remained certified to the International Cyanide Management Institute (ICMI) Cyanide Code since April 2006 and to ISO 14001 since February 2013 (internationally accepted best practice environmental management standard). During 2016, Mt Carlton entered into an independent gap assessment program for
certification to the ISO 14001 standard requirements.
All environmental incidents and near misses are reported through our incident reporting systems. Investigations are undertaken to determine the underlying cause to eliminate the potential for failures and to apply effective company wide controls. A significant environmental incident is defined as any occurrence within Evolution’s operational control that has resulted in, or had the potential to cause, at least moderate environmental impact.
The Cowal Gold Operations Mine Life Modification involves continued operations within ML 1535 for an
additional eight years to allow an additional 1.7 million ounces of gold production. Existing Cowal infrastructure
will continue to be used, with some alterations where necessary, including modification of the existing tailings
storage facilities and upgrades to the existing leach circuit within the process plant.
Benefits include the continuity of employment for the existing workforce (average of about 385 people) for an
additional eight years, providing job security for employees and contractors, and would continue to stimulate
demand in the local and regional economy and provide significant additional contributions to State royalties,
State taxes, Commonwealth tax revenue and applicable contributions to local councils.
Consultation was conducted with key state government agencies, local councils and the local community.
Several environmental studies were completed which indicated that existing monitoring, mitigation and
management measures could continue to be implemented to minimise potential impacts of the operation on
existing environmental values and the nearest private dwellings. Approval was granted for mine life extension
to 2032. Further details are provided on the company’s website www.evolutionmining.com.au/cowal.