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Environment

Environment

We are focused on extracting high-quality metallurgical coal in an environmentally responsible way. Coal mining is one of the most environmentally regulated industries in the world and it is vital that we consistently meet or exceed relevant regulatory standards. We expect to leave our sites in the same condition as – or better than – when we found them.

Coronado’s Environmental Management System is under review to incorporate global practices from all of our operations, enabling us to create a group-level standard of environmental management.

Climate

As a leading international producer of high-quality metallurgical coal, we have an important role to play in responding to the risks and opportunities of climate change. Met coal supports the transition to a low-carbon world, and we seek to continuously reduce and minimise our impact as we produce it.

We recognise that the production of met and thermal coal, as well as coal-fired generation using thermal coal, is associated with greenhouse gas emissions. We are committed to working with other industry participants to support, develop and introduce new coal production and energy-generation technologies that help reduce the environmental impact while continuing to meet global energy and steel demands.

Biodiversity, rehabilitation and land use

Australia

Curragh mine operates in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which promotes and mandates ecologically sustainable development through the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
Vegetation offsets

We currently manage 1,002 hectares of vegetation offsets to balance the impact of our open-cut operations and ensure habitat availability for key local species. These offsets routinely undergo bio-condition assessments that measure the functionality of the ecosystem against the biodiversity values of a reference site.

In 2022, Curragh completed an improvement project in one of these offsets – the central brigalow management area. Through this project, a 20ha portion that was struggling to revegetate since historic clearing was re-seeded with a seed mix comprising the endangered Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow) and other Brigalow companion species to encourage growth of these species and assist with the area’s recovery.

Progressive rehabilitation

At our Curragh mine, areas significantly disturbed by mining activities are rehabilitated to ensure that the remaining landform is safe, stable and non-polluting.

Progressive rehabilitation at Curragh began in 1988, with a total of 1,712 hectares of rehabilitation completed to date.

The rehabilitation methods and techniques are a result of extensive research and monitoring carried out at Curragh over time. These include:

  • a landform design that emulates natural slopes and drainage where possible
  • water management structures where required to manage surface water run-off and prevent erosion
  • soil and seeding techniques to increase rainfall infiltration and minimise erosion
  • use of a broadcast seeder to encourage revegetation.

Once completed, rehabilitation is monitored on a regular basis as part of a Rehabilitation Management and Monitoring Plan, which has been in place since 2002.

United States

At Coronado’s U.S. sites, biodiversity is considered early during site evaluation. Endangered plants and animals are protected on a federal level by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife service (USFWS) as well as on a state level by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR), the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR), and similar offices in Pennsylvania.
Evaluation and design

Interactive mapping tools are used to identify plants and animal species within specific distances of Coronado’s proposed project areas in the U.S. so that avoidance or protective measures are considered early in the evaluation and design process. In addition to this resource, U.S. regulatory agencies maintain lists of waters that are protected as “trout waters” and as a result are assigned more stringent/protective water quality limitations.

Areas of specific plant and animal habitat are defined in the regions of Coronado’s U.S. operations. For example, trout streams are located in the vicinity of our Greenbrier mine site. Guyandotte Crayfish are a species of interest in the vicinity of our Logan mine site and Big Sandy Crayfish are of interest in the area of our Buchanan mine site.

Permits

The U.S. currently holds permits that cover more than 9,000 acres in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. Each permit is carefully evaluated prior to issuance to determine pre-mining biological conditions regarding water, flora and fauna. The post-mining land-use plan is then developed to ensure the land is restored to equal or better use.

During mining, testing such as water sampling, benthic studies and fish tissue sampling are conducted to ensure protection of the ecosystem. Each operation complies with the approved contemporaneous reclamation standards, which limit disturbance associated with each permit. Prior to bond release, each permit is evaluated to ensure it meets the permit regulatory release requirements such as water quality, land configuration (erosion), vegetation, and tree survival.

Water

Australia

Like much of Australia, Curragh mine received above-average rainfall in 2022. After managing drought conditions for the past few years, Curragh quickly changed its focus to management of post-wet recovery to address the increased volume of water on site.

Curragh mine received a risk ranking of “low” from the Department of Environment and Science for the annual submission of the pre-wet season Regional Operational Water Identification tool. This is a favourable outcome and is largely due to the considerable storage capacity of the site.

There were no unauthorised water releases from the Curragh mine site, due to the substantial works completed in recent years in bolstering our water management systems.

United States

Similar to Australia, the U.S. operations received above average rainfall in 2022. This resulted in flooding in some areas of our operations. With the increased discharges, the U.S. has begun to explore passive water treatment options for suitable treatment sites to reduce chemical usage as much as possible. Passive treatment options will allow us to reduce the chemical input to discharges before entering the receiving streams.

Air

Australia

We are committed to managing our environmental performance and we are focused on maintaining our position at the forefront of environmental management in the Australian mining industry. We have an operational focus on managing natural resources, including air quality and emissions reduction.

Our Curragh Complex manages emissions to air in accordance with relevant legal and other requirements and establishes objectives and targets to continually improve management and performance. An Emissions Management Plan is in place and provides a strategic framework for how aspects relating to emissions are managed at Curragh Complex with the overriding objective to mitigate impacts from noise, dust, vibration and odour, inclusive of an associated monitoring program.

United States

In the U.S. we are constantly improving our environmental performance to meet our rigorous environmental standards. We station at least two engineers at each operating division in the U.S., who actively monitor the mines’ environmental impact and promote and ensure high standards of compliance are met.

Our environmental programs and compliance efforts have been acknowledged by several agencies, including the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the West Virginia Coal Association. Examples of our emissions reduction and air quality improvement projects include: emissions reduction at Buchanan mine complex, and the introduction of CleanSpace EX respirators and personal dust monitors at our Buchanan and Logan mine complexes.

Waste Management

Waste

Australia

Landfill and recycling

In 2022, Curragh mine complex completed the construction of a new in-pit landfill cell. This additional cell provides continued on-site general waste disposal capability. Having an on-site landfill reduces costs associated with disposal and reduces strain on the Blackwater township’s above-ground landfill.

The increase in waste diverted from disposal in 2022 for Curragh was achieved as a result of the completion of a scrap metal muster, which ultimately led to 1314 tonnes of metal being sent off-site for recycling. The scrap metal muster is a site-based initiative organised by the site team to ensure that unused scrap metal is routinely recovered for recycling.

Tailings

Curragh mine complex has two inactive tailings storage facilities (TSF) and one active in-pit TSF. All three are inspected by a registered professional engineer of Queensland annually, with guidance provided on best-practice management and maintenance of the structures. The active TSF is currently undergoing an embankment height raise to increase the life of storage.

United States

Landfill and recycling

U.S. operations continue to seek opportunities to reduce waste in landfills. In 2022, the U.S. waste to landfill declined by 14%, with significant reductions in scrap metal recycling achieved.

Coronado participates in office recycling at each of its office locations. This includes the collection of co-mingled recycling, cardboard, soft paper, e-waste, ink cartridge and battery recycling. Where possible, IT equipment that is no longer required within our organisation is either sent to a specialised e-waste recycling centre or, if there is still use left in the equipment, donated to churches, schools or other charitable organisations.

Tailings

In the U.S., Coronado has five TSFs in total, with one active at each complex. Both Logan and Greenbrier mine complexes have an inactive combined refuse facility.

Our TSFs are inspected and certified by company representatives on a regular basis and are also inspected by respective state and federal regulatory agencies. The U.S. is required to inspect and certify all refuse TSFs areas every quarter for the state agencies and annually with the federal agency. The high-hazard facilities require inspection every seven days.