Extreme weather events in Australia over recent years have highlighted the costs for Australian mining and mineral processing operations of being under-prepared for adapting to climate risk. For example, the 2010/2011 Queensland floods closed or restricted production of about forty out of Queensland’s fifty coal mines costing more than $2 billion in lost production.
Whilst mining and mineral professionals have experience with risk management and managing workplace health and safety, changes to patterns of extreme weather events and future climate impacts are unpredictable. Responding to these challenges requires planning and preparation for events that many people have never experienced before. With increasing investor and public concern for the impact of such events, this guide is aimed at assisting a wide range of mining and mineral industry professionals to incorporate planning and management of extreme weather events and impacts from climate change into pre-development, development and construction, mining and processing operations and post-mining phases.
The guide should be read in conjunction with the research final report which describes the research process for developing the guide and reflects on challenges and lessons for adaptation research from the project.
The Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney (UTS) led the development of the guide with input from the Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation, University of Queensland and a Steering Committee from the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy’s Sustainability Committee and individual AusIMM members, who volunteered their time and experience.
As the situation of every mining and mineral production operation is going to be different, this guide has been designed to provide general information about the nature of extreme weather events, and some specific examples of how unexpectedly severe flooding, storm, drought, high temperature and bushfire events have affected mining and mineral processing operations. A number of case studies used throughout the guide also illustrate the ways forward thinking operations have tackled dramatically changing climatic conditions.
Each section of the guide outlines a range of direct and indirect impacts from a different type of extreme weather, and provides a starting point for identifying potential risks and adaptation options that can be applied in different situations. The impacts and adaptation sections provide guidance on putting the key steps into practice by detailing specific case examples of leading practice and how a risk management approach can be linked to adaptive planning.
More information about specific aspects of extreme weather, planning and preparation for the risks presented by these events, and tools for undertaking climate related adaptation is provided in the ‘Additional Resources’ section.