The company has assured stakeholders that it is committed to operating sustainably, to seeking ways to minimise its environmental footprint, ensuring it provides a safe and inclusive space for employees and host communities, and that the company adheres to the principles of good governance.
The sustainability report marks the first formal step the company has taken on its pathway to become a sustainable mining company and coincides with the recent transition from an exploration company to the current dual track strategy of development and further exploration at the Bellevue Gold Project.
Climate change and sustainability
The company has outlined plans to pursue sustainable development to deliver on the needs of the present, without compromising the needs of future generations, and to integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into all aspects of decision making.
A key feature of this work will be the assessment of climate change impacts and the identification of opportunities to minimise adverse environmental effects.
BGL accepts the scientific consensus that the rise in average global temperatures over the last century is most likely due to increased atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations caused by human activities and acknowledges that climate warming trends are indicating a rise in significant negative physical impacts and pose a risk to business operations.
BGL recognises that it has a role to play in addressing climate change and is seeking to optimise efforts to reduce GHG emissions from operations by embedding climate change and sustainability considerations into pre-production efforts.
Phased approach to TCFD implementation
Climate risk identification
The company aims to align its climate-related disclosure with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations aligned to the pillars of Governance, Strategy, Risk Management and Metrics and Targets in 2017.
This year, we partnered with specialist climate and energy consulting company Energetics, to conduct a gap analysis and benchmarking exercise on our TCFD disclosure.
BGL is looking to adopt a phased approach to implementing the TCFD recommendations as developing corporate expertise in climate risk management takes time.
To date, the assessment of climate risk reduction opportunities at the Bellevue Gold Project has focused on the categories of energy efficiency, fuel switching as well as the climate risks to new infrastructure.
Conservation management plan
To work responsibly within the Bellevue Project area, the company has developed a conservation management plan, to ensure that the environmental integrity of the area is preserved.
The plan was approved by the Department of Mines, Industry, Regulation and Safety and was implemented prior to any work occurring within this area.
Level 2 Flora surveys are undertaken to to identify species and habitats of conservation-significance with the following three priority plant species identified to avoid and not disturb:
- Grevillea inconspicua (Priority 4);
- Hibiscus sp. Perrinvale Station (Priority 3); and
- Goodenia lyrata (Priority 3).
Water and waste
There are several legacy issues associated with the Project, including open waste rock landforms, open pits and a portion of the existing tails storage facility (TSF) which has not yet been closed.
The company is currently determining which of these can remain open and be used as part of future operations, and which can be closed.
During the next reporting period the company will also start to source its own potable water from the planned borefield – which will enable the Project to reduce emissions associated with water delivery from Leonora (around 180 kilometres south) and presents an opportunity for the project to become more ‘water wise’.
Additionally, the use of disposable water bottles and 10 litre containers will be phased out to further reduce plastic waste.
Opportunities for climate risk reduction
Mine closure plans
Looking ahead, rehabilitation trials will be implemented to develop a knowledge base to achieve the Project’s closure goals for all installations and landforms to be left in a state that is safe, stable and non-polluting.
To achieve this goal, the following will need to occur:
- Developing an understanding of successful rehabilitation techniques in the immediate area around the Project, through literature reviews and stakeholder engagement;
- Commencing soil studies to understand the physical properties and chemistry of soils to identify any impediments to successful rehabilitation; and
- Developing a site nursery for the growth and propagation of seeds and cuttings to develop a bank of trees and shrubs to be used for vegetation.
Dual track strategy
At the Bellevue Gold Project, infill drilling is ongoing, with an increase to the indicated resource (currently 860,000 ounces at 11.6 g/t from 2.3 million tonnes) expected in the December 2020 quarter.
In parallel, and as part of the company’s dual-track strategy, the business is fast-tracking its pathway to development.
Over 28 kilometres of underground development already exists at the project, and the company is looking to leverage this development by investing $20m into re-establishing access for mechanised re-entry.
This work will allow for a very low level of capital intensity for future drilling and development.
This investment will lead to the establishment of dedicated drill platforms from underground that will further minimise surface footprint and assist with potential future production haulage.