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Whitehaven Coal Limited : Annual Report 2013
51 Whitehaven Coal Limited Annual Report 2013 5 Environment 5.7 WATER MANAGEMENT Water is a precious commodity. In the Gunnedah Basin, water is a key resource for a range of individuals and industries, in particular the agricultural sector. Our operations have limited impacts on the ground water systems in the area. In terms of surface water all of our sites are "nil discharge" sites, which means that all surface water must be contained on site and can only be released if the water quality is within stringent water quality guidelines. Our two most recent approvals, the Maules Creek project and the Tarrawonga expansion project were two of the rst projects to have been subject to scrutiny by the Federal Government's Independent Expert Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Mining Development. The Committee was set up in late 2012 and provides scienti c advice to decision makers on the impact that coal seam gas and large coal mining development may have on Australia's water resources. Surface water Overview FY2013 has seen an improved performance by Whitehaven in relation to management of surface water, and in particular, wet weather discharge events. In particular, our Narrabri, Tarrawonga and Rocglen mines have implemented improved water management practices, including establishment of additional storage capacity, improved water treatment techniques to reduce sediment load, and improved water use from nominated wet weather discharge dams to reduce discharge events. This is evidenced by no instances of non-compliance in relation to wet weather discharge at any of these sites over the nancial year. At our active sites, water use for dust suppression purposes over an annualised period comprised 78ML at our Narrabri mine, 605ML at our Tarrawonga mine, 100ML at our Rocglen mine and 388ML at our Werris Creek mine. This water was sourced predominantly from in-pit or surface water capture in adjoining sediment dams. At our recently approved Maules Creek mine, which will be Whitehaven's largest, detailed studies have been carried out to assess potential surface and ground water impacts. The views of the Federal Government's Independent Expert Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Mining Development were considered by the Federal Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities and subsequently the Federal Minister for the Environment in his approval of the projects. All issues raised have been addressed in the Maules Creek approved Water Management Plan, which now represents a leading-edge environmental approach to surface and ground water management, and also deals with the cumulative impacts associated with other adjacent mining projects. Ground water Overview Our ground water impacts overall are minimal. Ground water is a key component of our environmental assessments and is thoroughly assessed through the establishment of groundwater models for each project. We control our impacts by ensuring our groundwater use is within our licensed entitlement, and through regularly observing potential impacts through a network of monitoring bores located within our project sites and in the wider locality. Our operations are not located on the black-soil alluvial plains located in the region. Whitehaven retains several groundwater allocations across its operations, albeit we have made limited use of these allocations over FY2013. Rocglen pumped less than 1ML from its 120ML allocation, while Tarrawonga did not utilize any of its 50ML allocation for the period. Water use from the sites was predominantly from surface water sediment dams or from water captured in pit, comprising both surface ows and groundwater interception. Our Werris Creek mine did use its entitlements, utilizing 48ML of its 50ML allocation. This water use was associated with dewatering of the former Werris Creek underground workings.
Annual Report 2012