Bathurst understands the importance New Zealanders place on the natural environment.
The Company shares this view, and has laid the foundations for best practice in environmental management of its mining activities.
This includes the establishment of the Kaitiaki Environmental Reference Group to monitor the company’s environmental performance, ensuring that rehabilitation is a central part of operations. Bathurst is also proposing a range of biodiversity offsets and compensation to protect plants and animals in and around the Denniston Plateau to ensure an overall and ongoing net benefit to the conservation estate.
Bathurst Kaitiaki Environmental Reference Group
“We are working to achieve best practice in managing the environmental and social impacts of our mining and processing operations.”
In September 2011, Bathurst established the Kaitiaki Environmental Reference Group – an independent body charged with actively monitoring and guiding Bathurst’s environmental performance.
Kaitiaki is a Maori term which embodies the concept of guardianship of the natural environment.
The Kaitiaki Group is an initiative by Bathurst to ensure that the company applies best practice in its environmental management by providing a forum for discussion between the company and its relevant stakeholders on environmental issues that relate to the company, its customers and the community.
The group reports to the Bathurst board of directors and is tasked with delivering commentary and advice on the company’s performance to achieve the following outcomes:
- environmental best practice by management and staff
- best practice environmental decision-making processes and policies
- responsiveness to the changing needs and expectations of stakeholders
- assurance of Bathurst’s record of responsible, environmental stewardship
The Kaitiaki Group is chaired by Guy Salmon – a renowned New Zealand conservationist and Executive Director of the Ecologic Foundation, an independent think tank, based in Nelson, New Zealand.
Other members include Dr Colin Meurk, an ecologist and restoration specialist at Lincoln University’s Landcare Research; Peter Hansen, a Brisbane-based specialist in the environmental management of coal mines; Francois Tumahai, chairman of West Coast iwi, Ngati Waewae and Fiona Bartier, an environmental scientist and Bathurst’s General Manager, projects and Planning.
At Buller, the Kaitiaki Group aims to work with other interested parties to define areas of the Denniston Plateau that should be protected for their biodiversity value, as a large conservation reserve.
This underpins Bathurst’s belief that mining activity and a conservation reserve can successfully co-exist.
“Bathurst is dedicated to the responsible extraction and use of the mineral resource in a manner that respects the historical, cultural and environmental associations in the local area of operation and that has a positive impact on both the regional and national economies.”
As part of its commitment to best practice environmental management, Bathurst has devised a carefully-phased rehabilitation programme that enables ecosystems to thrive during operations, and after mining activities have ended.
The overall goal is to create environmental conditions that are compatible with the natural landscape, and from which an indigenous ecosystem can thrive post-mining land use.
Bathurst’s approach involves the staged application of rehabilitation activities during exploration and development phases as well as during the actual mining activities, as opposed to undertaking large-scale rehabilitation works at the conclusion of mining. The aim is to disturb as little area as possible for the shortest period of time.
One of the rehabilitation techniques employed on the Denniston Plateau will be Vegetation Direct Transfer (VDT), where vegetation and soil are moved directly from one site to another. This process has already been used by Bathurst to rehabilitate parts of its Coalbrookdale stockpile site.
A digger lifts the vegetation and immediate subsoil in one intact layer and transfers it to another site, resulting in immediate cover. Supplementary seeding and planting is undertaken to boost the overall recovery of the transferred shrubs and plants. This technique, as practised by Bathurst and other companies, has been used extensively with excellent results in the rehabilitation of indigenous bush in high altitude plateau environments similar to that of the Denniston Plateau.
Bathurst is also committed to undertaking appropriate biodiversity offset and compensation programmes to ensure a net conservation gain.
At Escarpment, the company has proposed a programme of predator management over 5,620 hectares of the Heaphy region with the Department of Conservation for at least 35 years to help protect and monitor populations of the great spotted kiwi.
At Takitimu, whilst mining and associated land disturbance is all on agricultural land, rehabilitation is still of high importance and an integral part of the mining process. Overburden material is stored in segregated stockpiles which are revegetated whilst in storage for erosion and dust mitigation.
The soil is reinstated in its original layers and reformed to follow the pre-mining contours as close as practicable.
After site stabilisation, topsoils are reinstated and sown in pasture, at which point the land use can revert back to farming.