Environmental management the focus of mines conference

Environment and community professionals from mines and quarries across the Central West gathered in Cobar last week for their annual conference.

The theme of this year’s MEET (Mine and Extractive Environment Team) two day conference was ‘Tailings Storage Facility Management’ and included tours to the CSA and Peak Gold  mine sites.

Aurelia Metals’ group manager of environment Jonathon Thompson from the Peak Gold Mine is the chairperson of MEET and helped to coordinate this year’s conference in Cobar.

Mr Thompson said the conference provides a networking opportunity for MEET members to see first-hand what other mines and companies are doing in their field.

A group of 44 delegates, including visitors from the Newcrest Cadia Valley, Evolution Lake Cowal, Wilpinjong Coal and Alkane Resources mines, met in Cobar to look at the environmental, community and technical aspects of  two of Cobar’s metalliferous mines.

Mr Thompson said a number of innovative solutions to environment and community issues at mines and quarries were discussed during the conference.

“The presentations on the Thursday included a presentation from Professor Longbin Huang (University of Queensland) who spoke about the use of bacteria as an ecological cap for tailings dam to assist with rehabilitation.

“It’s a very promising growth opportunity and one that Endeavor is currently looking into with other mines in the area likely to benefit and build on this work,” Mr Thompson said.

“Matthew Newton, director of compliance operations at the Resources Regulator, spoke about the focus moving forward of the regulator including much tighter regulation around rehabilitation particularly progressive rehabilitation objectives.”

Professor David Williams from the Geotechnical Engineering Centre, School of Civil Engineering, The University of Queensland, was also invited to speak about what can be learnt from tailings dam failures.

In addition to the mine tours and half day conference at the Cobar Bowling & Golf Club on day two, members also attended a networking dinner at the Cobar Bowling & Golf Club Chinese Restaurant.

“This is just one of the ways that mining creates additional opportunities for local businesses,” Mr Thompson said.