We recognise the importance of protecting ecosystems and avoiding or minimising the impact we have on biodiversity. It is our responsibility to minimise the impacts of land clearing and to rehabilitate land disturbed by our activities.

We support biodiversity conservation, have effective systems for designating protected areas and integrated land use. We have committed to avoid exploring or mining in World Heritage Areas and to respect legally designated protected areas, whilst also delivering no net loss outcomes for all new projects and major expansions.

Our approach

Our approach is guided by ICMM Mining Principle 7 – Conservation of Biodiversity and the associated Position Statement on Mining and Protected areas, as well as other relevant industry guidelines.

Our commitment to land management and biodiversity is stated in our Sustainability Policy and managed through our internal environmental and closure standards, which includes a commitment to not explore or extract within World Heritage listed properties. When we develop our operational procedures, we also take regional and local biodiversity needs and regulatory requirements into account.

We report annually on our land and rehabilitation performance, in our Sustainable Development Reports.

Risk and opportunity screening

Our internal environment standard specifies that all operations and major projects must complete a risk and opportunity screening exercise at least every five years to assess:

  • projected changes in climate conditions that may impact the bioregion;
  • our current and predicted land footprint;
  • the proximity of the operation to areas of high conservation value;
  • interactions with threatened animal and plant species;
  • broader contextual factors, for example cumulative impacts or changes to land use;
  • the perceptions and concerns of local communities; and
  • regulatory framework and compliance.

The collection of this information enables a more holistic assessment of the potential biodiversity risks relevant to the operation and provides the scope for a more formal assessment to be undertaken if deemed appropriate.


Managing biodiversity risks

Operations that face material risks related to biodiversity are required to put in place management and control measures that support the mitigation hierarchy – avoid, minimise, rehabilitate, offset – along with ways of verifying that these are effective. The design of the controls must reflect potential cumulative impacts connected to local use, for example climate change or planned developments.

When developing controls to manage biodiversity risks, we require all operations to apply the mitigation hierarchy to minimise the impact of our operations through avoidance, minimisation, rehabilitation and offsets, where appropriate.

Biodiversity mitigation hierarchy pyramid

Two of our operations, Groote Eylandt Mining Company (GEMCO) and Worsley Alumina have identified material risks specific to biodiversity, while Illawarra Metallurgical Coal has also identified biodiversity within its material risk register as part of a broader environmental approvals risk.

Our minimum performance requirements for land disturbance and rehabilitation activities in our internal environment standard include:

  • Mapping and grading the significance of biodiversity features within and beyond operating boundaries;
  • Incorporating progressive rehabilitation of vegetation, topsoil and other elements into operational plans;
  • Setting performance criteria for progressive rehabilitation activities, measuring actions against them, and adapting processes to achieve better outcomes;  
  • Implementing an effective ‘permit to clear’ process, reflecting all biodiversity features, their significance, and all relevant legislation; and
  • Undertaking research to close biodiversity knowledge gaps and support better performance and outcomes.

Closure

Just as we take action to avoid or minimise environmental impacts when our operations are running, this commitment continues at closure.

Effective mine closure planning and implementation considers the views, concerns, aspirations, efforts, and knowledge of internal and external stakeholders. We start planning for closure early by working to identify mutually beneficial closure outcomes that can be integrated into the design of our operations.

Our closure management activities support the UN Sustainable Development Goal 15 – Life on Land. We are guided by the ICMM Integrated Mine Closure Good Practice Guide and have developed an internal closure standard with specific performance requirements for our operations.

Our closure plans are informed by the aspirations and expectations of our host communities and countries. Every one of our operations has a closure plan, which is reviewed and updated regularly. These plans set out closure criteria and final land use options. They provide the basis on which we estimate closure and progressive rehabilitation costs. We work to align our closure planning approach with other industry leaders and are active participants in several industry forums, including ICMM’s closure working group and the Cooperative Research Centre for Transformations in Mining Economies (CRC TiME)


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