Mid West Sustainability Update
Throughout its lifecycle, a mining project will create a variety of impacts on the natural environment. The extent and nature of these impacts will range in severity dependant on the sensitivities of the local environment and the effects of different mining practices undertaken, both on their own and collectively.
While mining usually generates large profits tipping the balance towards the economic pillar, by undertaking more sustainable practices, such as restoring damaged ecosystems, we can regain balance to also support ecological and societal needs.
In December of last year, enough local viable seed was collected to fulfill the 2022 seed collection program at the GMA Port Gregory mine site. From this collection, over 8000 seedlings are being well nurtured, destined for future revegetation works in the winter of 2023.
Why do we collect the seeds? To ensure rehabilitation of the mine site, returning the vegetation back to the land it originally came from - these techniques increase the ecosystems’ ability to establish a similar state.
However, restoration challenges still exist. Many native seeds are so small
that once applied with traditional raw seeding techniques, they can be carried away by wind or taken through seed predation, meanwhile those that remain are dependent on favourable weather conditions for survival.
For this reason, for the first time GMA will be trialling a new technique known as seed palletisation. Currently five kilograms of seeds are undergoing treatment, whereby they will be embedded in a pellet of clay mix and locally sourced topsoil.
Additives to enhance survival are included in the clay mix and tailored to the targeted environment, equipping seeds with resources to withstand harsher conditions. Also, by increasing the weight and size of the seeds, predation and loss through wind is reduced and suitable for mechanical distribution, improving seed distribution efficiency.
Last year’s achievements, along with innovative ideas to improve restoration efforts in 2023, is evidence of GMA’s determination to continuously improve their contribution to sustainable development; by minimizing environmental impact and maximizing biodiversity we can secure a more sustainable future for generations to come.
Written by Jessica Gillespie, Graduate
Environmental Officer/Quality Officer at GMA