The partnership is between Glencore’s McArthur River Mining and the li-Anthawirriyarra (people of the sea) Sea Ranger Unit, who are collaborating on an ongoing water quality monitoring program of marine waters around MRM’s Bing Bong Loading Facility.
Glencore’s MRM, 700 kilometres south-east of Darwin and 65 kilometres from the township of Borroloola, mines one of the world’s largest zinc deposits.
MRM mines and processes zinc, lead and silver concentrates on site, with the operations zinc and silver before being exported from its Bing Bong Loading Facility in the Gulf of Carpentaria to customers right across the globe.
Zinc produced at MRM is used to preserve and extend the life of steel products. It’s found in construction materials, as well as everyday goods such as cars, trains, ovens, washing machines and fridges. It can be recycled many times, so can play an important role in the circular economy.
Zinc is also an important metal in renewable technologies, such as solar panels and wind turbines.
MRM’s partnership with the Sea Ranger Unit started in 2022. Through the partnership, MRM and the rangers ensure the mine’s operations are not detrimental to the marine environment.
The monitoring data demonstrates the marine environment surrounding the Bing Bong Loading Facility is in good health and continues to be protected.
This marine environment has a high diversity of species and is home to globally significant populations of internationally threatened species, such as the freshwater sawfish.
“We’re committed to making a positive contribution to the communities where we operate and operating safely and responsibly is central to everything we do at MRM,” says MRM Health, Safety and Environment Manager Lana Treasure.
“The coastal waters of the Gulf hold significant cultural value to the local people of the region, forming an integral part of their connection to land and sea.
“So, it’s incredibly important to us that we respect this cultural heritage by protecting the environment.
“It’s also important we continue to be transparent with the local community about our operations.
“The partnership with the li- Anthawirriyarra Sea Ranger Unit is two-fold. It ensures complete transparency while also ensuring traditional custodians are contributing to the long-term sustainability of our operations.”
Together, the team deploys sample collectors to buoys one metre below the surface, which are later retrieved and analysed. The team samples the water using a complex filter that is highly effective at detecting traces of metals in water. T
he program includes six monitoring locations in and around the Bing Bong Loading Facility, with the samplers being deployed for between five to eight days, with the results being compared with the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality ANZG (2018).
The Sea Ranger Unit’s deep knowledge of the local country is an incredible asset and inspiration to the team at the mine, says MRM Environment Superintendent Simon Longhurst.
“The opportunity to work in partnership with the Sea Ranger Unit is profound and allows us to learn directly from traditional custodians on how we can best manage the environment around our operations.”
MRM’s partnership with the Sea Ranger Unit was highlighted as a key success in the 2022 Independent
Monitor (IM) Report released earlier this year.
The report also indicates a continuous improvement in the environmental management and performance of MRM’s operations and a 97 percent “very high level of overall compliance”.
The work of the Sea Ranger Unit and MRM’s Environment Team contributes directly to the positive results in the IM Report, with the samples and data collected used to measure MRM’s effectiveness against all of its conditions.
The latest IM report also found MRM had no non-compliances against 908 conditions, no environmental issues requiring urgent attention, and 100 percent compliance with its NT Environment Protection Authority recommendations.
“We’re really pleased with the findings in the latest IM Report,” says Mr Longhurst.
“We will continue to deliver on the highest standards of environmental management and performance at MRM while ensuring the environment around our operations are healthy and the local community’s values and beneficial uses continue to be protected,”.
To learn more about the partnership with the Sea Ranger Unit or the 2022 IM Report, visit glencore.com.au/mrm.