Adapting mines to suit a changing environment
Mines are often located in geographically and climatically challenging locations. As climate changes, extreme weather events are growing in frequency, and will inevitably lead to productivity, safety and environmental challenges for mines.
Climate adaptation and mitigation measures often go hand-in-hand, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution for mines to reduce risk both to and from the environment.
New tools are needed to help the mining industry assess their own unique situation, select the most suitable means to reduce multiple scale vulnerabilities and identify potential opportunities to lead transition to the low-carbon economy.
A mine for all seasons
Over the past 10 years we have been working with industry to understand barriers and drivers in climate adaptation efforts and offer solutions to help mining companies and their communities to advance their adaptation capabilities.
We’re working to help mines reduce the impact of extreme events on their business (adaptation), while they also work to reduce the impact of mining on the environment (mitigation).
This will help reduce the downtime that floods, storms and droughts inevitably cause for mining operations, help resources reach the client safely and securely, and reduce overall costs and hazards to the whole value chain.
As the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events continue to change, we are developing vulnerability assessment and adaptation tools for the mining industry to manage and reduce climate associated risk.
We developed CRATER (Climate Adaptation using Terrain Evaluation Results) – a spatial analysis and multi-criteria evaluation tool to assist decision makers in making adaptation options in mines.
CRATER is a decision-making tool which can be used to identify flooding ‘hot-spots’ around a mine.
CRATER uses layers of information such as historical data, human experience data from observation of flood events and a geographic information system (GIS) to build a detailed and authentic model of the mine's unique infrastructure and vulnerabilities.
The tool is not a piece of software but a three-step process that explores ‘what-if’ assessments of a mine site. Identifying faults and capital investment analysis gives operators the ability to assess a mine’s ability to adapt and to evaluate various adaptation and mitigation options.
Reducing mining’s vulnerabilities to extreme events
CRATER was successfully trialed in an Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) funded pilot project at a mine in a flood-prone part of Queensland’s coal-rich Bowen Basin and will be used before each wet season to identify vulnerabilities.
Australia is a world leader in climate adaptation in mining – a subject explored little overseas, other than in Canada - and we have published the largest body of research on this subject.
Capitalising on our hard-earned expertise and following the success of our CRATER software, we are now developing a tool for mining companies to evaluate exposure to climate and weather related susceptibility across the supply chain.
This tool will assist mine operators develop risk management plans and encourage the emergence of adaptive mining chains.
Adaptive mining chains are able to provide information on locations and activities in the supply chain that are particularly exposed to extreme events and therefore identify those that may benefit from adaptation and contingency plans.