Bracing for another wetter than usual rainy season

Glencore’s Queensland Metals is prepped and set for the upcoming wet season as North Queensland catches an early start to the rain.

The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted an early and intense 2021/2022 wet season, with above average cyclones and damaging winds forecast across north-eastern Australia.

North-west Queensland has enjoyed an early scattering of rain in October and November, with towns including Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Birdsville and Julia Creek getting some much needed rainfall.

The monsoonal wet season usually happens between October and April each year, with the majority of rain typically falling from December to February.

In anticipation, our Environmental teams and operational areas have put key preparations in place to ensure we are in the best possible position to respond to significant weather events to protect our people, community and assets.

Mount Isa Mines Environmental Advisor Alozie Agomoh at a water sampling site.
Lake Moondarra in Mount Isa is expected to receive a substantial top-up this wet season.

Mount Isa Mines and Lady Loretta Mine

Queensland Metals Environmental Operations Superintendent, Anne Williams, says there has been a strong level of commitment across our sites to ensure our water management systems are ready for the upcoming wet conditions.

“In preparation, we’ve reviewed our water management systems through inspections, surveys, maintenance and modelling processes to confirm they are fit for purpose to capture and contain surface water run-off,” Anne says.

Anne says a water balance is run weekly, and following rain events, to confirm that stormwater management systems are meeting containment requirements.

“At each of our sites we have Trigger Action Response Plans, which detail actions required to be undertaken to ensure the system is monitored and managed, to reduce the risk of release from site during a rainfall event.”

“Our Environment team undertakes extensive water quality monitoring both on and offsite to check for compliance with our Environmental Authority and to minimise our impact on our receiving environment.”

The EHM Environment team regularly sample water catchment areas.
Queensland Metals Environment teams test and monitor our local water resources all year round.

Ernest Henry Mining

Ernest Henry Mining (EHM) Senior Environmental Advisor, Bernadette Williams, says a great deal of planning and preparation has taken place across EHM, including the Mount Margaret mining lease, in the lead-up to the earlier than expected wet season.

“We’ve proactively worked with the various Surface Operations teams onsite to clear drains, check culverts, bunds, dams, and to ensure all pumps are at the ready to handle and manage the expected stormwater,” Bernadette says.

“There’s a number of neighbouring properties surrounding EHM and we’re always aware of our environmental responsibilities especially around the wet season.”

“We have a friendly competition onsite among our personnel to guess the day when the local area receives the first inch of rain for the year.”

“Last wet season it happened on 1 January 2021 but this year we’ve already achieved this milestone with the first inch being reached on 1 November.”

Morgan Fenwick and Alice Beer, Mount Isa Mines Rehabilitation and Closure Planning Advisors inspect a local creek prior to the wet season.
Environmental specialists conduct routine water checks onsite as well as offsite.

Copper Refineries Limited (CRL) and Townsville Port Operations

Townsville Operations Senior Environmental Advisor, Justin May, says the planning for the coming wet season has been comprehensive at the Townsville Copper Refinery and Port Operations.

“Close attention has been placed on ensuring there is adequate capacity in water storage dams, infrastructure is functional, and that sediment pits and stormwater drainage systems have been cleaned as required,” Justin says.

CRL conducts an inspection of its dams prior to the wet season, to understand their condition and ability to perform to their design standards.

“Issues that are identified during the inspections are either addressed immediately, where required, or included in budget planning processes, to ensure structures are continuing to meet the required standard,” Justin says.