... is the nation’s 6th largest export earner ... earned $14 billion of export revenue in 2014-15 ... is the 2nd largest producer of gold in the world

Land management

Minerals development relies on access to land. Australia’s gold industry recognises that access to land is earned by demonstrating responsible land stewardship throughout the mining life cycle and that the industry has a responsibility to contribute towards sustainable land use outcomes.

The mining industry’s 'footprint' in the landscape is relatively small. Nationally, granted mining leases account for only 0.64% of Australia’s land mass. However, the industry’s land management role at the local or regional level can be significant, especially when account is taken of land beyond the operational footprint. And notwithstanding the marked difference in land area occupied by the minerals industry relative to other major land uses (including agriculture and conservation), there are circumstances in which the demand for resources overlap.

Australian gold mining companies recognise the need to integrate multiple values within land management, including conservation, economic, social and cultural values. With careful, science-based planning, land uses (including mining, conservation and agriculture) can be complementary as sequential or neighbouring activities. This also requires ongoing stakeholder engagement. Ensuring that the rights, knowledge and interests of traditional owners, existing land holders and the community are recognised and respected is a priority for the gold industry.

Australia’s gold industry is committed to continuous improvement beyond regulatory requirements in areas such as biodiversity conservation. The industry is focussed on avoiding, minimising or mitigating impacts on conservation values. While some mined areas can be rehabilitated to pre-existing condition or better, in other cases substantial transformation of the landscape is unavoidable. Ensuring this land is available for beneficial post-mining land use is a key objective of the gold industry.

Case Study: AngloGold Ashanti – Biodiversity

Work by AngloGold Ashanti’s Australasia region in the Dundas Nature Reserve, as part of the wholly-owned Viking Project (which includes 66 granted tenements and covers an area of 10,781km²) in Western Australia, has led to the discovery of two new myrtle species. Data collection has also resulted in the reclassification of other priority species status.

Dundas, which spans an area of 7,840km² and is managed by the South Coast regional office of the Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), is a key target area for the company’s  greenfield exploration team. Two years of planning to include additional flora surveys and a commitment to utilise smaller rigs has resulted in the finalisation of the company’s first drilling programme in the reserve.

Viking Project also incorporates the proposed Wood line Hills Nature Reserve, as well as 28 smaller areas including conservation, water, Aboriginal and recreational reserves, pastoral and unallocated freehold land. Woodline covers an area of 1,350km² and falls under the jurisdiction of the Department’s Eastern Goldfields office.

To obtain approvals for exploration at Dundas, a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) was compiled. This plan was designed to comply with both DEC guidelines and the AngloGold Ashanti Australasia environmental standards. These combine environmental, safety and community policies, standards and procedures to meet the international ISO14001 standard and OHSAS18001 requirements. The CMP incorporates descriptions of the existing environments and outlines results from flora and fauna studies conducted in the region, as well as proposed AngloGold Ashanti activities, associated environmental impacts and management measures.

Field programmes included geological mapping, geophysical studies and surface sampling using a vehicle mounted auger. This was followed by aircore and diamond drilling programmes. In all, about 70km of track, spanning 3m in width, was cleared using raised blade or bucket touch methods. The initial drilling programmes were finalised in August, and the deepest hole measured some 150m.

Where possible, the temporary camps were located to minimise impact, and on conclusion of the programmes the areas were rehabilitated and all rubbish was removed.

AngloGold Ashanti will ensure that a post-drilling audit is carried out by an environment and heritage officer to ensure all drill holes have been plugged.