Mining awards highlight environment efforts
Thursday, 10 August 2000
For the third time since the prestigious biennial Resources Industry Awards were established in 1996, the mining industry has put its environmental expertise on show. In one of its most significant events of Resources Week 2000, the South Australian Resource Industry has hosted its Environmental Excellence Awards.
The Awards recognise excellence in two aspects of the mineral, petroleum and extractive industries. They are 'innovative technology and engineering' and 'best practice methodology.' Past and current entries have featured diverse innovations including improved mining techniques, rehabilitation projects, solar and waste minimising technology, environmentally sensitive exploration and improved reporting.
Despite a field of 13 entries this year, the judges decided against making an excellence award, not because entries were poor in quality but because they were uniformly good. "The benchmark for industry is set at very high levels," said Mr Bob Goreing, CEO of the SA Chamber of Mines and Energy, and chair of the judging panel. "The panel is looking for something that stretches those boundaries by a real space. In an industry such as the resources industry, where the benchmark for standard practice is so high, it has been difficult for the panel to find an entry that eclipsed the field,' he said.
The judges did award a commendation to Flinders Power for their rehabilitation of the Bowman's Trial Coal Pit, now largely filled by ground water. The project involved reshaping the sides of the pit, revegetating the surrounds and preventing wave erosion of the banks.
"There were some very innovative practices used in this project," said Mr Goreing. "They called in experts in coastal erosion, and used a collapsible fabric mattress stabilised with concrete to reduce shoreline erosion and protect the slopes."
While there was no Excellence award, Adelaide University shared in an unplanned presentation. "The judges felt that a set of three entries entered by WMC collectively displayed a level of corporate citizenship that did demonstrate this space between standard practice and industry leadership. Unfortunately, the judges felt that the suite of entries didn't quite fit the award criteria," explained Mr Goreing, "so they exercised their licence as a judging panel and declared a special judges' award for leadership in corporate citizenship'.
The trio of entries included Best Practice Community Reporting, a project involving the donation to government of land containing mound springs to be included in the Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park, and the Arid Zone Recovery Project.
The Arid Zone Recovery project is a joint venture between WMC, The Dept of Environment and Heritage SA, Adelaide University's Department of Environmental Biology and the Friends of the Arid Zone Recovery Project. It aims to restore 60 square kilometres of arid zone land at Roxby Downs to pre-European condition.
Feral pests have been eliminated, and cat-, rabbit- and fox-proof boundary fences erected. Old mining equipment is recycled for fence posts, erosion control and shelters for native animals that have been re-introduced. A range of innovative technological approaches are developing transferable and cost-effective wildlife management solutions, and the project provides training for secondary and tertiary students.
"Although the judges agreed that the project fell outside the strict guidelines, they were most praising of it," said Mr Goreing. "The sense of collaboration and purpose struck us, and also the balance between high and low technology, cost effectiveness and project durability," he said.
SA Chamber of Mines and Energy
Mobile: +61 8 8379 9711
Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762