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Managing Cumulative Risks to Assets from Mining

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Assessing the Cumulative Risks of Mining and Extractive Industries to the Namoi Catchment’s Natural Resource Assets

Namoi Cumulative Risk Assessment Tool

Background

The expansion of extractive industries has been identified as a key driver of change for the Namoi Catchment.  This was highlighted through the development of the new Namoi Catchment Action Plan (2010-2020).  This supported previous findings that emerged through Scenario Planning and other initiatives undertaken previously by Namoi CMA in collaboration with the Catchment community, natural resource management stakeholders and experts. 

In light of this, and based on the critical thresholds identified for natural resource assets in the Namoi Catchment Action Plan (2010-2020), Namoi CMA initiated a project to investigate developing a framework to assess the cumulative risk of multiple mines to natural resource assets in the Namoi Catchment.  Namoi CMA wanted to see if it was possible to develop an interactive GIS tool based on best available science and mapping that would allow the testing of different scenarios to produce cumulative risk statements and associated maps.

 

Framework developed (2011)

The proposed framework for the tool was developed and then peer reviewed by scientists from across Australia. 

The framework proposes a way to develop an interactive spatial tool to assess cumulative risk that could be used to explore the potential risk of various multiple mining scenarios on key natural resource management assets in the Namoi Catchment.  It is consistent with the Australian Standard for Risk Assessment and incorporates the critical thresholds identified in the Namoi Catchment Action Plan.  This report has generated considerable interest amongst industry, all levels of Government, natural resource managers and the community across the Namoi Catchment.

A detailed report outlining the framework and the results of the peer review (Stages 1 & 2) was released in September 2011 and is available below.

 

Assessment tool constructed (2012)

Namoi CMA has built a prototype of the proposed model, and refined the data layers that underpin it, based on the peer reviewed framework and latest available information.  The tool provides information on the unmitigated relative risk of any multiple mine scenarios to the natural assets of the Namoi Catchment.

Namoi CMA has been consulting with industry, Government and other stakeholders throughout the development of the tool, and this process will continue with a new round of presentations and consultation planned for early 2013.   

There has been a great deal of interest particularly from those involved in developing Strategic Regional Landuse Plans and those considering how to undertake Bioregional assessments in mining areas.  An independent peer review of the tool is now underway and will be made available once completed in February 2013.

The full report on the tool itself (Stage 3) is available below

 

Next steps (2013)

The current approach models only unmitigated risk which is one of the issues raised through the consultation to date.  The next stage is to further improve it by being able to also assess the impact of any proposed offsetting or other mitigation measures.  The next version of the tool which is currently under development will incorporate this capability (Stage 4).

Namoi CMA is also interested in exploring potential opportunities to assess other factors beyond the “biophysical” assets (such as soil, water and native vegetation).  Scoping of this further potential use of the tool, however, will be dependant on securing the necessary funds to undertake further work. 

It is hoped this approach can be a useful tool in informing landuse decisions and balancing the interests of a range of industry and community interests across the catchment.

Namoi CMA also commissioned an Independent Peer Review of the Namoi Cumulative Risk Assessment Tool in early 2013. To view a copy of the report Click Here. 

Further information

For more information contact James Hutchinson-Smith, Manager Strategic Land Services on 02 6764 5970 or email james.hutchinson-smith@lls.nsw.gov.au

Cumulative Impacts and Mining in the Namoi Catchment
Cumulative Risk Assessment Framework (Sept 2011)
Cumulative Impacts and Mining in the Namoi Catchment
Cumulative Risk Assessment Tool (Nov 2012)
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Namoi Catchment Management Authority, 2013