Our commitment to our environment
Ballarat Gold Mine is committed to an ongoing environmental & community program to ensure that we maintain a positive relationship with our local community and regulatory authorities. All licence conditions and permits to work have been developed to maintain high standards.
Responsible mining at Ballarat Gold Mine is based on the following principles:
Our actions to manage the environment responsibly include:
There are over a 100 specific licence conditions that we have to comply with at Ballarat Gold Mine from EPA Vic (10), Earth Resources Regulations (75), City Of Ballarat (29), including noise, water management, traffic management, blast vibration, dust and land management.
Noise control has been an integral part of the design of the Ballarat Gold Mine site including locating all infrastructure away from residences and below the natural surface to minimise the noise impact of the operation and to comply with noise limits specified within the work plan.
Minimising noise enables us to continue to build positive community relationships.
Ballarat Gold Mine measures background noise, and noise made by its machinery and equipment. We are then aware of how to reduce, or eliminate, excessive noise so that we can continue the project without adversely effecting the surrounding community. For example the company has a purpose built sound suppressed drill rig for use in urban areas to minimise the effect on neighbouring properties. The processing plant has been specifically designed to minimise the noise it produces and has well defined hours of work for the noisier crushing stage.
We use explosives to advance the tunnels and remove the gold bearing quartz. The energy released from the firings can cause vibration and noise on the surface. Firings are usually undertaken between 6:45 to 7:15 am/pm which is the end of our 12 hour shifts. The larger stope (production) firings are typically carried out during the day 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday to reduce the impact on our neighbours.
Blast vibrations are often reported to us as being like rolling thunder and in some case like an earthquake, this can cause concern for the surrounding community. While the firings are well within the regulatory limits that protect the community, we are very conscious of this impact and are committed to reducing the impact of our firings on our neighbours.
Ballarat Gold Mine measures every blast with special vibration monitors which indicate the strength of the vibration on the surface. Community feedback and the specialist vibration monitoring equipment is collated and assists our mining engineers to improve each blast in an effort to reduce the impact to the community. See our Blasting Fact Sheet
Air emissions and dust resulting from surface activity have been identified as issues that affect local air quality. Dust suppression is an ongoing task and monthly dust monitoring occurs at locations surrounding the mine site.
Mining activities that may generate dust include handling of topsoil and ore, removal of vegetation, drilling operations and crushing and screening of ore.
Strategies implemented to minimise dust include the use of recycled water sprays and a water truck, application of polymer dust suppressant and enclosing conveyors and other processing equipment. Monitoring of the North Prince Extended ventilation shaft emissions occurs biennially.
Any exceedances of the dust licence conditions are reported immediately to the regulator Earth Resources and to the Environmental Review Committee.
The Ballarat Gold Mine has been monitoring the Yarrowee River for over 25 years to ensure protection of the environment and compliance with the sites EPA Victoria discharge licence conditions.
While some of the workings from the gold rush have either been back filled or collapsed, there remains plenty of room for surface and groundwater to seep into the old mine workings. The water that has entered the historic mine workings is pumped out prior to mining near these areas to ensure the safe commencement of modern mining.
This water is slightly salty and has higher metal levels due to natural absorption from surrounding rock. It has been treated since 1994 in the pond and wetland system to remove the metals to recognised acceptable levels. This water is either used in the processing plant or on site for dust suppression with the remainder being discharged to the environment under strict EPA discharge licence conditions.
The gold rush had a significant impact to Ballarat’s plants and animals. Within a few years the majority of the trees had been removed for housing, ground support within the mines, wheelbarrows, guttering or simply keeping warm. After mining ceased some areas slowly returned to native forest while the large areas were planted with pines.
Ballarat Gold Mine manages areas of pines as part of the buffers between our operation and our neighbours. Over the years the mine has replaced and promoted natural regeneration of local indigenous plants along the edges of the plantations.
Using the local indigenous plants for all of our revegetation promotes habitat for the local fauna.