2. Ensuring our operations address environmental and social expectations

1 October 2019

Environmental management, including air quality at and around our sites, is important to our neighbours, local communities and our people. More broadly, how our emissions contribute to air pollution and greenhouse gases is of interest to governments, environmental groups and the general public.

Since transitioning to our Environmental Sustainability Policy in 2018, we have undertaken significant work to conduct our business in a manner that considers environmental consequences and opportunities, in conjunction with social and commercial imperatives.

At Meandu Mine, we are working with our contracting partner, Downer, to embed sustainability across all facets of our operations in a way that shifts operational culture beyond core regulatory compliance.

Over a three year period to 2018, several neighbours submitted complaints that dust, blasting practices and noise levels at our Meandu Mine were surpassing their tolerance levels. In response to each complaint, our Community Relations team and site leaders met with neighbours individually to understand their concerns. In early 2018, all relevant Stanwell and Downer leaders attended a workshop to understand how we were impacting our neighbours, why, and what actions we could take to address the situation. We identified and implemented a range of actions, including the location of dust monitoring units, the status of some rehabilitation work, and reviewing our internal procedures in relation to noise and dust trigger action response plans. As a result:

  • We now schedule operational activities based on the weather conditions, in an effort to lessen the impact of noise, dust or vibration at neighbouring properties. Feedback provided by our neighbours since these changes has been positive and continues to inform ongoing improvements in site practices.
  • We have reviewed the KPIs agreed between Stanwell and Downer. We identified that the dust complaints we received contained a common theme that it “was worst in the morning”. Investigations identified that a previously agreed commercial KPI to reduce water truck usage (in order to conserve water) was having the opposite effect of raising environmental concerns by neighbours. We reviewed all mine KPIs to ensure alignment with our Environmental Sustainability Plan and to ensure Downer was in a position to implement Stanwell’s Environmental Sustainability Policy at Meandu Mine.
  • Engineers have adopted a continuous improvement approach to blasting activities to identify and implement practices that lessen impacts on our near neighbours.
  • We have established an Environmental Working Group   that is led by employees who work with site leaders, to identify projects or activities that improve Meandu’s environmental performance. Some focus areas have included Meandu’s obligations under its Environmental Authority, progressive mine rehabilitation, recycling, noise and water management. Some of the employees involved live near the site and have provided a valuable perspective about their experiences in the neighbourhood.

Our extensive environmental monitoring network around Tarong power stations and Meandu Mine includes four monitors located on neighbours’ properties and three monitors located on site. These monitors provide real-time data that feeds into operational decisions and execution.

To ensure the integrity of the data captured, it is validated each month by a third-party specialist. While this data has already prompted us to implement some changes to planning and practices, a key priority for 2019/20 is enabling site personnel to better use our environmental monitoring network when they make operational decisions. This is particularly important in relation to identifying when weather conditions may heighten the risk of our operations negatively impacting our community.

Stanwell and Downer work together to actively build and maintain quality relationships with our neighbours. In November 2018 and March 2019, site leaders from Tarong power stations and Meandu Mine met with 30 neighbours to discuss operations, listen to feedback and partner in the establishment of a Neighbourhood Consultative Committee. This committee meets twice a year to discuss both short and long-term operations. Other opportunities to connect with our neighbours include small individualised site tours that enable them to experience the site’s operations first-hand, meeting with the people who work there and answering any questions they have. Our next priority in relation to this committee is to research how other organisations structure consultative committees to ensure participants have maximum opportunity to provide feedback. We will then evolve the way we structure these interactions with neighbours, to ensure they achieve best value from their interactions with us.

Building trust and credibility with our near neighbours and the communities in which we both operate requires consistently working together, listening and partnering in shared solutions. Our neighbours and community leaders all have direct contact details for our on-site Community Relations Advisor so they can make contact at any time and Stanwell will respond in a timely manner.