We believe in leaving our environments in a better state than when we arrived and are committed to attaining an outstanding level of environmental performance in all our operations.
Evolution incorporates environmental considerations into all areas of our business to effectively manage environmental impacts and risks. We have a Sustainability Policy that we expect our people and contractors to adhere to.
We have a social responsibility to not only achieve all legislative compliance expectations but strive for leading practice and to meet the expectations of the communities we operate within and are part of. In FY19 we:
- Developed and implemented eight Environmental Performance Standards to lift us to a higher standard of environmental performance
- Instituted governance reviews for our Tailings Storage Facilities
- Developed and implemented quarterly environmental assurance reviews and integrating environmental considerations into our Life of Mine Plans across all sites
- Undertook periodic reviews to ensure that our environmental performance targets and objectives are being achieved
The Group has a uniform internal reporting system across all sites. All environmental incidents, including breaches of any regulation or law, are assessed according to their actual or potential environmental consequence. Our FY19 incidents can be found on our compliance page.
Environmental performance standards
Our Environmental Performance Standards consist of eight key business risk areas: Air quality, Biodiversity, Rehabilitation and Mine Closure, Resource Efficiency and Emission Reduction, Tailings Storage Facilities, Waste, Waste Rock and Ore and Water.
FY19 – Zero catastrophic
or major environmental
Our environmental care and culture is based on:
- Commitment to our Sustainability policy, with supportive funding and a belief that most environmental incidents are preventable and controllable with foresight, relevant training, purposeful attitude and appropriate equipment
- Accountability of Management with the support of all our people to ensure that the workplace and the practices comply with statutory and licence conditions
- Implementing leading industry practices and environmental management systems at all levels: including exploration, development, operations, decommissioning, closure and rehabilitation
- Regular assessment of the environmental performance of the Company’s activities to ensure compliance with the Company’s commitments and conditions; and to report findings to stakeholders, the community and regulatory authorities
- Continually striving to identify opportunities to effectively manage energy and water whilst minimising waste and reducing our environmental footprint
- Increasing awareness of personnel on the potential environment impacts of activities in which we are involved, and how those impacts can be minimised or controlled
- Maintaining appropriate emergency and critical incident response programs, and to notify the relevant authority in the event of any reportable environmental incident
- Contribute to conservation of biodiversity and integrated approaches to land use
Click here to view our Sustainability Policy
Click here to view our Tailings Storage Facility Governance Policy
Click here to view our Sustainability Performance Standards
Click here to view our Sustainability Performance Data table
We believe in the power of partnerships, that’s why we like to contribute to projects that are relevant to our communities and leave a positive environmental impact.
In FY19 we continued our program of implementing Environmental Enhancement projects with a primary purpose of improving or enhancing environmental values onsite or in nearby communities. We have eight Environmental Enhancement projects currently under way. The full list of detailed summaries and progress can be found on our website. We commenced a new partnership with NQ Dry Tropics to help threatened beach scrub communities inland from the Great Barrier Reef between Crystal Creek and Bowen. Key activities include removal of weeds, management of fuel loads, traditional owner engagement and community education.
Evolution acknowledges that climate related risk has the potential to impact our business and communities.
Evolution is committed to understanding and proactively managing the impact of climate related risks to our business and our environment. This includes integrating financial, physical, regulatory, reputational, market, and climate related risks, as well as energy considerations, into our Life of Mine strategic planning and decision making.
We will work to build the climate related risk resilience of our assets, our communities and our environment.
We will implement sound risk management practices across all areas and activities in our business and apply Board level governance.
Our Sustainability Principles include improving the disclosure of, and actively managing, climate related risks and opportunities, improving energy efficiency and the responsible management of water usage. Climate related risks have been identified as key risks on the Evolution Mining Risk Register which are regularly reviewed and monitored by the Risk and Sustainability Committee.
We will transparently report emissions and energy consumption performance and disclose material climate related risks. The Company has completed a process to identify and assess climate related impacts to our business, with the main areas of focus in the near term to be improving energy efficiency and responsibly managing water use.
As a mining company, we can contribute to global efforts to combat Climate Change by promoting energy efficiency and reducing emissions. Each year we create and submit annual reports for the National Pollutant Inventory (NPi) and the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act (NGER) to estimate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy use.
A summary of FY19 results is provided in the tables below. For historic information of NGER results, please click here.
NGER – FY19 summary
Evolution acknowledges that Electricity is a significant cost to our operations, and it is constraining us from expanding mill capacity at two of our operations. We believe there is an opportunity to analyse our power consumption and correlate it with our production patterns to develop techniques which
optimise our electricity usage, reducing our costs and enabling improved throughput and recoveries of our mills.
To view the Electricity Usage Summary for FY16 – FY19 results, please click here.
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, Evolution’s 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.
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
Our operations develop, implement, communicate and
adhere to their air quality management plan. This includes
developing and implementing strategies, operational
controls, management practices and 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 ensure we are
protective of human health and the environment.
Ambient dust, noise, odour, and spill light impacts
on our surrounds and are closely monitored at our
operations. Protection of our social licence to operate
means that we operate above compliance in these areas
within our community surroundings. We report our air
emissions as per our legal and other requirements and
communicate the outcomes in the various consultative
forums for our operations.
7. Waste rock management
Waste rock is identified as the extracted mineral bearing
ore that does not meet a site’s minimum concentration
of mineral. This performance standard addresses the
characterisation of waste rock, design and construction
of waste rock disposal facilities, potential acid generation,
storm-water controls, monitoring, rehabilitation and closure.
The performance standard is applied as required based
on each ore body and the surrounding waste rock. Each
operation is generally quite different in terms of potential
for acid mine drainage (AMD) and salinity impact on the
surrounding environment. Operations maintain material
balances for topsoil, waste rock types throughout the
lifecycle of operations for rehabilitation closure criteria
Where Potentially Acid Forming (PAF) waste rock is
suspected or known to occur, the operation will place it
inside and under Non-Acid Forming (NAF) covers.
Progressive rehabilitation activities are conducted as
areas of the waste disposal facility become available.
Full rehabilitation of these areas is conducted as soon as
FY19 waste rock produced: 37,501kt representing an 6% reduction on waste rock produced in FY18 (39,905kt).
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
We have developed land and biodiversity management
plans at each of our operations. These plans are risk-based.
The Management Plan for our Cowal site can be viewed on our website at https://evolutionmining.com.au/cowal/
under Environmental Management Plans.
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
We acknowledge that we are only visitors in our
communities and mining is a short-term land use. Our
project planning cycle begins with 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 uses will be and what the site
should look like when the operational areas are ready for
Each of our sites has a closure plan in place which outlines
the process to rehabilitate the site and performance
criteria required before a tenement can be handed over
to Government. These plans take into consideration both
environmental and social impacts. Rehabilitation and land
use management plans for our Cowal site can be found at
In addition to the post mining plans Evolution are actively
seeking ways to ensure the land is economically, socially
and environmentally sustainable at relinquishment in
preparation for future land use. Initiatives include:
■ Partnering with six other operators in the Kalgoorlie/Boulder region to support regional development including recreational and tourism. The project aims
to add economic and environmental value and is
then transferred to an external entity and ultimate
relinquishment of mining tenure
■ Our Mt Rawdon site is working closely with CSIRO
to develop a wetland project to provide a natural
treatment of mine affected water that could be reused for irrigation purposes or released back to the natural
environment. The CSIRO has developed a synthetic
clay called ‘Virtual Curtain’ that reduces the number of
contaminants in the water column by binding to the
sediment, thus making it non-toxic
■ Our Mt Carlton team has partnered with environmental
specialists in refining quality control in the placement
of waste rock as a final landform to ensure potentially
problematic material is encapsulated in the most
efficient manner for future land use
■ At Cowal we rehabilitated 18.2 hectares of land in
FY19. Rehabilitation was complete for waste rock
emplacement which stabilised batter slopes with rock
armour and provided a stable layer able to support
long-term vegetation growth
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 storage facilities need to be
operated and rehabilitated with due care for a range of
potential issues. Our protocol and governance process
incorporate the International Council on Mining and
Metals (ICMM) six key components of the Tailings
■ Accountabilities, Responsibilities and Competency; all
sites are now equipped with a responsibility matrix
■ Planning and Resourcing; Tailings life of mine project
teams are in place at each level of the organisation
■ Risk Management; considered a high priority risk for the organisation all sites have completed Principal Hazard
Management Plans, Bowtie risk assessment and Critical
Control Plans for each facility
■ Emergency Preparedness and Response; Dam break
studies have been completed for all active Tailings
■ Review and Assurance; tailings governance assurance
meetings have been formally introduced during FY19
and will continue at each level of the organisation
Regular inspections and audits ensure that 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.
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.
FY19 Ore processed: 14,221kt (dry tonnes) to produce
654,312oz Au, excluding Ernest Henry. Supporting documentation can be found on the Corporate Governance page: Tailings Storage Facility Governance Policy and the Sustainability Performance Standards.
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
Our waste goals aim to reduce, recycle and reuse our
resources occurring in our normal site waste management practices.
The on-site management of organic and industrial/
inorganic 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
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. Generally, chemicals are consumed in process. Hydrocarbons in the form of dirty rags, crushed
oil filters, used engine coolants or used bulk lubes are
transferred off-site for industrial re-refining (for re-use) or conversion into energy.
A site resource recovery strategy has been implemented at our Cracow project in central Queensland to reduce waste to landfill and enhance our custodianship of the environment.
Effectiveness of the strategy is monitored using our
environmental database system to capture and analyse the data collected. Initial data will be shared in FY20.
5. Water management
We recognise the importance of water to
our business and our communities. Evolution
believes in taking a proactive approach to
responsible water management. Our standards
aspire to reduce the demand for new water
and the overall requirement for water
in our operations.
In FY19 our total water withdrawn increased by 6%. This
increase was in line with the cumulative total dry tonnes
milled which also rose by 1%.
Total water recycled and reused increased by 21% between
FY18 and FY19. We use recycled water primarily to process
ore and in other activities such as paste fill, irrigation, dust
suppression and construction.
Our water management performance standard ensures that
our operations effectively manage water, including process
water, stormwater, discharges and dewatering activities.
As a minimum we comply with all relevant water licensing
requirements set by Government and industry regulators.
We utilise probabilistic site water balance models to
predict water flow and requirements during droughts and
stormwater flows. Our operations prepare for seasonal
variations in water flow and maintain routine dewatering
activities to satisfy water licence conditions.
In addition, there are water management requirements
associated with tailings and waste rock management
designed to manage risks associated with unwanted
events. Each of our operations separate clean water
(rainfall runoff in non-disturbed areas) and potentially
mine affected waters (rainfall runoff within the mining
footprint). Waters which are captured within the mining
footprint are reused in an effort to reduce the demand
on our external supplies.
The various streams of water have specific water
management requirements. The performance standard
guides operations to ensure that clean water is kept
separate from contaminated water (a similar management
strategy is used for other waste by-product streams). Environmental data (water, air emissions and energy)
reported from our operations is collated and verified by
external environmental accountants Greenbase.
FY19 Total Water Withdrawal, Recycled or Reused
11. Energy efficiency
See the tab Climate Change, Emissions and Energy 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.
An historic overview of our NGER data can be reviewed by clicking here.
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.
The first phase of Evolution Mining’s Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP) commenced in December 2017, removing 15 hectares of aquatic weeds from the Kalamia Creek wetland water body. The weed piles were transported to the composting site at a local landholder’s property who placed the material in windrows and turned the piles fortnightly using his compost turner.
All local landholders supported the objectives of the project and are keen to see the open water body return. The landholders told stories about fish previously caught in the area before it became choked up with weeds and how they would like the local children to share the same experiences. Following a rainfall event in February, the creek system received a good flood pulse.
A manager at the Pacific Reef Prawn farm located downstream said “I’m not sure of what you have actually done upstream in the creek but this is the cleanest we have ever seen the water during a flood pulse”.
The project has received interest from local landholders eager to use some of the compost product. This indicates that if the final compost product is beneficial and cost mitigation is viable, it could be a popular renewable resource in the Lower Burdekin. The project is on-track to meet its milestones and long-term outcomes.