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Australasia region

Gold produced (000oz) 246
% contribution to global production 5.7
No of employees 509
Productivity per employee (oz/TEC) 38.93

The start of production at a new mine, the Tropicana Joint Venture Project (TJV), scheduled for 2013, will transition this region from a single operation - Sunrise Dam - to being a dual-operation environment.

Tropicana Joint Venture

Key sustainability priorities include:

  • The development of common systems across the region, ensuring consistent implementation of group-wide sustainability standards.
  • The effective management of contractor safety at Tropicana during the remainder of the construction phase, to ensure that the project is completed safely. With the current mining boom in Western Australia, scarce skills in the resource sector are stretched. Safety systems and training therefore need to be strengthened to ensure operators achieve the required level of competence and incidents are avoided.
  • The development and implementation of a regional community plan based on two principal components – communication and investment – to support the building of positive community relationships.
  • Implementing a compliance system that identifies all legislative environmental permitting and other obligations so that governance systems are in place to measure compliance.

The approach to the approval for the TJV has been viewed as a benchmark in environmental approvals in Western Australia. The team delivering the approvals focused on accessing the best information and science available to deliver a positive result for the environment within the Great Victoria Desert (GVD) and to address the concerns of interested communities and stakeholders.

To do this effectively, significant resources were mobilised early in the planning process to evaluate firstly what was important to the community and stakeholders, and secondly to better understand the biological environment in which the mining activities would take place. Stakeholder concerns were factored into the approval process and feedback was provided throughout the process.

Little baseline biological information is available to inform the development of resources projects in remote and challenging environments such as the GVD. As part of the environmental impact assessment and the approvals process, the project team mapped some 230,000ha of vegetation to enable the contextualisation of the impacts (which will cover a much smaller footprint of up to 3,400ha). This has set a benchmark for mining projects, where practice has been to survey the direct area of impact. Surveying beyond the mine footprint demonstrates use of the precautionary principal and enables a database of knowledge to be established.

The environmental values and constraints of the region were collated with the use of seasonally appropriate field surveys and interpretations. The mine was designed to avoid critical habitats, rare flora, and archaeological sites, and to minimise environmental impacts.

A peer review panel was established with representatives from the local community, academic institutions, the legal fraternity and the scientific community. This panel met monthly during the authoring of the environmental documentation, and its input shaped the documentation positively. The TJV also established the Biodiversity Trust Fund which will contribute and enhance the scientific knowledge of the GVD in the long term. The Biodiversity Trust Fund has been approved by the Australian Federal government and will be a successful legacy flowing from the activities undertaken by the project.

Testament to the corporate leadership of the TJV partners and the commitment of the approvals team, was that ministerial approval for the project was delivered on time, whilst meeting the needs and expectations of the stakeholders, and improving the scientific knowledge and understanding of this remote and important part of Western Australia.

An example of a very good assessment that met the EPA’s expectations in terms of high quality environmental information and corporate behaviour, was the Tropicana Gold Project.

Dr Paul Vogel, Chairman of the West Australia Environmental Protection Authority, from the EPA’s July 2011 newsletter

The EPA’s annual report for 2010/2011 also commended the Tropicana Joint Venture for the extensive biological survey programme undertaken, which, it said, greatly helped the assessment process

Tropicana Joint Venture, Havana Deeps, Australia
Tropicana Joint Venture, Havana Deeps, Australia