Operating to stringent environmental and planning approvals, licences and conditions, Yancoal continues to work with Federal and State Government departments and regulatory bodies to ensure full transparency in its environment and community performance and reporting.
Yancoal’s Environmental Management System (EMS) provides a structured system designed to guide Yancoal and its operating interests in managing environmental impacts and in improving environmental performance associated with its activities. Our operations are subject to various environmental licences and conditions of approval from both federal and state regulatory bodies - compliance with these environmental approvals and regulations is a critical priority for Yancoal.
GOING BEYOND COMPLIANCE
Yancoal has an Independent Environmental Assurance Audit (IEAA) program that operates on a two-year cycle. The purpose of the IEAA program is to provide an overview of environmental risks and environmental compliance, performance and assurance across its owned and managed coal mining operations. The IEAA program assists Yancoal in maintaining a culture of excellence in environmental governance, compliance and performance across all its operations by providing a platform to share learnings from the audits across the group, to identify opportunities for improvement and to facilitate the monitoring of audit actions.
We recognise climate change is a significant global challenge, and that resources companies must work to avoid, mitigate and manage climate change impacts and risks in the face of a dynamic and evolving physical and policy landscape. We also believe the Australian coal mining industry has a key role to play in the energy transition by continuing to supply high-quality coal, which has a lower emissions profile than other exporting countries, to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy. We recognise that coal extraction and energy production associated with the consumption of our products contributes to global warming through the release of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. We also recognise our role in proactively managing and reducing both the direct (scope 1) and indirect (scope 2) emissions and the energy intensity of our operations, while supporting research into technologies that will reduce GHG emissions from the downstream consumption of thermal coal (scope 3). Climate change will create a range of challenges for businesses and society. It will also present opportunities. Yancoal is taking action to better understand and manage climate-related risks and to take advantage of the opportunities associated with the transition to a lower carbon economy on a global scale.
operational GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
The majority of the Company’s Scope 1 emissions relate to fugitive emissions associated with its operational underground mining operations and open cut mines, decommissioned mines, and combustion of fuel. Scope 2 emissions stem from the consumption of electricity purchased from the grid. We report our operational direct (Scope 1) and indirect (Scope 2) emissions and energy consumption data on an annual basis in line with the Australian NGER legislation. We have implemented systems and processes for the collation and calculation of the data required by the Federal Clean Energy Regulator (CER). In addition to this, the Australian Government’s Safeguard Mechanism legislation requires facilities whose net covered emissions exceed the safeguard coverage threshold of 100,000 tCO2-e per year (per facility) to keep their emissions at or below a baseline set by the CER. Yancoal did not incur any financial carbon liability during 2019.
On an operational control basis, Yancoal’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the period ended 30 June 2019 totalled 1,834,921 tCO2-e, which represents a 6% decrease from the previous year. The emissions intensity per tonne of ROM coal produced decreased when compared to the previous year at 0.044 tCO2-e/ROMt.
WATER USE AND MANAGEMENT
Yancoal is committed to the efficient and responsible use of water resources, and to implementing efficient practices in water management across all our operations. We recognise that water is a highly valued, shared and finite resource and acknowledge stakeholder interest in how we manage and use this resource in our operations. Water management is a highly regulated aspect of our operations and we have in place risk-based surface and groundwater management plans that guide the day-to-day interactions of operations and water sources to mitigate water impacts and risks. Operations also employ various water reticulation systems, which assist in the recycling of water to ensure maximum use across our operations.
Yancoal recognises that rehabilitating mines is important to the operation of its business. Yancoal firmly believes that mining is a temporary land use and that successful mine closure and tenement relinquishment enables previously mined land to be made available for beneficial post-mining land uses. In 2019, 260 hectares of rehabilitation was completed across the Yancoal Group.
Yancoal manages approximately 13,000 hectares in biodiversity offset lands across our operations. In addition, a further 800 hectares has been incorporated into the National Parks Estate, State Conservation Areas or Conservation Agreement areas. Biodiversity offsets improve the conservation of many threatened and vulnerable native flora and fauna species and ecological communities.
Biodiversity offset management plans are in place to manage and improve the quality and integrity of offset lands to assist in the management of key ecological communities. These are supported by species specific Management Plans.
MINE CLOSURE AND POST-MINING LAND USE
Mine closure planning is a significant element in our mine planning and design process. We continue to investigate opportunities for the planning and closure of our mine assets to ensure that they meet the statutory obligations required to successfully relinquish mining tenements and to minimise ecological and social risk to land post-mining. Key to successfully relinquishing tenements and returning land for beneficial reuse is the achievement of meeting agreed rehabilitation and closure criteria. In consultation with key stakeholders, Yancoal’s goal is to identify viable land use options which seek to maximise the beneficial reuse of the rehabilitated mined land.
AIR QUALITY MANAGEMENT
Yancoal strives to minimise air emissions caused by our operational activities and has implemented appropriate measures to mitigate against the potential impacts on the general health and amenity of surrounding environments, and to comply with relevant statutory obligations. This includes having an Air Quality Management Plan and appropriate air quality monitoring in place to guide and assist operational personnel in the day-to-day management of dust generating activities. Where there is a risk of offsite dust emissions affecting sensitive receivers, Yancoal has established continuous real-time air quality monitoring stations which provide advanced warning to enable operations to be modified accordingly in the short term. Direct notification of air quality levels to operational personnel in real time enables appropriate changes to be made to operational activities as a proactive response to managing dust emission levels. Each Yancoal-managed operation submits an annual National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) report, which provides interested parties with information about substance emissions.
Yancoal manages noise generated from the operation of mining equipment and other large-scale industrial machinery in a similar manner to the management of air emissions. This includes having a Noise Management Plan and appropriate noise monitoring in place to guide and assist operational personnel in the day-to-day management of noise generating activities. Where there is a risk of offsite noise emissions being created by operations, Yancoal has established continuous real-time noise monitoring stations which provide advanced warning and enable appropriate real-time operational changes to be made. At some operations, where night-time noise emissions need to be carefully managed, Yancoal has employed additional personnel to investigate and validate night-time noise levels at offsite noise sensitive locations and to provide direct real-time feedback to operational personnel to enable immediate operational changes to be made where required. At several Yancoal operations, noise attenuation of selective machinery and infrastructure is employed where reasonable and feasible. Combined with the regular servicing and maintenance of the fixed and mobile mining equipment these measures reduce operational noise.
PROACTIVE MANAGEMENT OF NOISE AND AIR EMISSIONS
Real-time weather stations are deployed across Yancoal’s operations which assist in the management and mitigation of mining generated dust and noise emissions. Meteorological stations provide real-time data on key weather parameters, allowing the operation to make informed decisions on blasting and dumping operations each day. At selective sites, the weather data is used as a predictive tool to forecast the direction and dispersion of potential dust and noise emissions from planned mining activities. This enables operational personnel to plan for potential severe weather conditions and to adjust operational activities accordingly to minimise emissions.
Yancoal investigates and responds to each community complaint. Each site is required to meet Yancoal’s Community Complaints Management Standard which provides for the standardisation of complaints categorisation and reporting to ensure consistent and effective receipt, recording, investigation and response to community complaints. All complaints are investigated impartially and factually. Corrective actions are identified and implemented as soon as practicable to mitigate against further complaints.
We recognise that waste management arising from Yancoal’s operations is important because the failure to manage waste efficiently may impact the natural environment. Yancoal’s approach to waste management is outlined in each site’s environmental management plan to ensure relevant legislative requirements are met. Hazardous and non-hazardous waste is collected and either recycled or disposed of by third party providers. For Yancoal, hazardous waste is mainly comprised of effluents and waste oils, while non-hazardous waste includes scrap steel, mixed solid waste and timber.
TAILINGS DAM MANAGEMENT
Yancoal recognises stakeholder interests in the safe management of Tailings Storage Facilities (TSFs) and is continually updating operational plans and procedures to ensure the adoption of industry leading practices in the safe management, rehabilitation and closure of our TSFs. Each site undertakes comprehensive assessments to identify risk areas with the storage and management of tailings. Statutory safety inspections form an integral part in the management of TSFs and are conducted by government regulatory bodies in each jurisdiction as required.