Co-existence of Mining and World Heritage / Protected Areas ...cont
3. Criteria for Nomination of the GBMWHA
The inclusion of the Greater Blue Mountains on the World Heritage List in 2000 related to specific natural criteria "representing on-going ecological and biological processes significant in the evolution of Australia's highly diverse ecosystems and communities of plants and animals, particularly eucalypt dominated ecosystems."
The operation of a mining development outside the GBMWHA, with proper controls to mitigate any impacts on the declared values, is not inconsistent with these values ascribed by the World Heritage Committee.
SCM's proposed controls on air, noise and water management - to be included in any development consent conditions - represent no threat to the ascribed values.
In particular, the Company's proposal specifically rules out washing or processing sand and kaolin on site and eliminates the need for large sedimentation ponds - a feature of the prior (and existing) sand extraction operations.
It is important to note that the GBMWHA was not declared for its scenic or cultural values. Nevertheless, SCM recognises that these matters are still relevant for other planning and national park considerations, and has integrated terraced landscaping into its design to minimise any visual impact from within the WHA. Approval for future mining would therefore not pose a threat to GBMWHA values.
4. Co-existence of Mining, National Park and Wilderness Areas
Mining is not permitted within national park or wilderness protected areas. Stringent conditions need to be applied to off-site developments that may impact with attributes of protected areas. SCM has expressed concern that existing sand extraction operations are not managed in accordance with standards expected with modern mining projects, particularly given the proximity to existing protected areas.
SCM believes there is a distinction between the regulatory and rehabilitation protocols applying to traditional sand extraction projects and mining projects under the jurisdiction of the Mining Act. Whilst it is noted that many sand extraction approvals are subject to planning laws, many are historical approvals and often don't involve the rigor applied to mining projects.
Both Clarence Colliery and SCM have been subject to extensive environmental assessment and community consultation. As a result, significant improvements have been made to environmental and operational management associated with these projects.
5. Commitment to ICMM Position on Mining and Protected Areas
In August 2003 the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), representing the world's largest mining companies, agreed to recognise that existing world heritage properties are 'no go' areas for the development of mineral resources (Appendix A).
Although that undertaking relates to exploration and mining within world heritage areas, SCM endorses the central themes of the ICMM undertaking as it applies to activities adjacent to such areas.
Key elements of the ICCM undertaking are:
1. No exploration or mining in existing world heritage areas.
2. Take all possible steps to ensure that operations are not incompatible with the declared universal values of world heritage areas and do not put the integrity of these properties at risk.
3. Recognise that, in some cases, exploration and mining may be incompatible with the objectives for world heritage properties.
4. Recognise the role of properly designated and managed protected areas in in-situ conservation strategies.
5. Ensure that systems for the evaluation, designation, classification and management of areas for protection are needed to ensure consistency of approach to land access decisions.
6. Protected land decisions should be transparent, rigorous, based on scientific and cultural understanding, backed by legal controls and should contribute to the equitable resolution of different land use, conservation and development objectives.
7. An understanding of the mineral potential of areas proposed for listing for protection, including world heritage properties, as well as the availability of clean mining and processing technologies should be some of the factors considered in assessments and related decision making processes.
In addition, SCM has adopted the outcomes of the IUCN-ICMM Workshop on Mining, Protected Areas and Biodiversity Conservation: Towards Best Practice (July 2003) as the blueprint for the design and refinement of its Newnes Junction kaolin mining and sand extraction project.
In particular, SCM has adopted two guiding principles in the formulation of its proposal:
(a) Demonstrated commitment to biodiversity
SCM has prepared a Newnes Plateau Conservation, Restoration and Enhancement strategy, comprising three elements:
1. Rehabilitation of a nearby Newnes Plateau Swamp, a listed endangered plant community.
2. Rehabilitation and on-going management of a scenic and historically important area of vacant crown land (850Ha) known as Dargan's Creek Reserve.
3. Establishment of a native vegetation nursery to provide plant stock for mine site rehabilitation, vegetation recovery and to support local community requirements.
This strategy is consistent with the NSW Government's developing green offsets policy and the proposed amendments to the POEO Act.
SCM has also proposed changes to the development to exclude potential areas of vegetation from the mine plan as having potential for Newnes Plateau Shrub Swamp (although not having the specific classification species present). Wildlife corridors have been incorporated into the development on the advice of local naturalists.
(b) Demonstrated commitment to address End of Life Closure and Rehabilitation as a component of planning approval
SCM is proposing progressive clearing over the life of the project to ensure the minimum exposed area at any one time.
Commencing from year one there will be an extensive mine site rehabilitation programme providing for progressive restoration of the mine. The open face will be terraced and vegetated as the mine progresses, thereby minimising visual impact from the surrounding area.
SCM has assessed its proposed Newnes Junction development in the context of its proximity to an existing World Heritage Area.
It has adapted its proposed mine design, final site rehabilitation and other planning measures to ensure the development conforms with the criteria for proximity to a World Heritage Area.
SCM's assessment and proposed measures comprehend and, where applicable, adopt the following protocols:
• Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (Feb 2, 2005)
• The International Council on Mining and Metals' Position on Mining and Protected Areas
• IUCN-ICMM Best Practice Principles (July 2003)
Approval of the proposed development is consistent with the specific nomination criteria for the GBMWHA, and its design and operational features accord with accepted protocols.
© Sydney Construction Materials 2010