Stakeholder and Community Engagement
Early, proactive engagement has created a positive foundation for the Project’s development, and allowed us to build strong relationships with the people in the communities where we operate.
Since 2008, we have been engaging with our closet neighbours, the Yaruman Community at Ringer Soak, located approximately 50km north west of the Project. From this early engagement relationships have developed based on mutual trust and understanding which allows us to work together to ensure our respective interests can co-exist.
We are committed to being a good neighbour and working with the community to ensure we can all benefit from the Project’s development. We do this through community consultation forums, on the ground consultation and ongoing engagement with the local Shire and community leaders to ensure we remain in touch with the community, and work to address any concerns.
To understand the local social and economic environment we undertake research and studies to identify both the potential positive and negative impacts of the Project’s development. This research forms an integral part in the development of management plans and strategies which will assist in minimising impacts and optimising benefits, now and into the future.
In particular, it has been identified that local employment is an area where the Project can continue to make positive contribution to the region over the Project’s life. From 2010 to 2015, Northern Minerals employed local people, and from 2012 to 2014 achieved a local employment rate of up to 20% on the project site.
A key aspect of community engagement activities is to participate in and support community development initiatives, where possible, that improve the well-being of the local community. We have provided financial support for a number of community initiatives, in particular in 2014, Northern Minerals was the proud sponsor of the Kundat Djaru Cats, Ringer Soak’s local football team competing in the East Kimberley Football League.
We respect the rights and cultural links Traditional Owners have with country, and encourage an environment of cross cultural appreciation and sharing. It is recognised that only by working together can we co-exist and joint benefits be achieved.
Since 2008, we have been working with Traditional Owners on project development activities and cultural heritage management.
The Project is located within the Jaru Native Title Claim. Through ongoing engagement and dialogue, Northern Minerals and the Jaru People have developed a strong relationship based on mutual trust and understanding.
In June 2014, Northern Minerals and the Jaru People achieved a major milestone through the finalisation of their Co-Existence Agreement (the Agreement). This Agreement provides access to country to develop and operate the Project, while at the same time ensuring the Jaru People are able to achieve positive economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes from the Project’s development.
To support this several strategies focussed on employment and training, environmental and heritage management and social development will be developed and implemented in line with the project schedule
Health and Safety
Northern Minerals is committed to ensuring that the health and safety of our employees and contractors are key aspects in our decision making process. We strive to achieve the highest level of performance in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) via fit for purpose risk based systems and management practices. Our goal is to ensure a safe and healthy working environment with ‘zero’ work-related injuries or illnesses.
Safe work methods and practices are encouraged by establishing responsibility and accountability amongst employees and contractors. Our health and safety management systems and processes define clear expectations around visible leadership, as well as our commitment to ongoing training and employee development.
We encourage positive, proactive safety awareness and instil a culture of continuous improvement across the organisation. We regard the safe completion of this Project to be of the highest priority and have developed a set of standards that apply to all persons and contractors who conduct work for, or on behalf of Northern Minerals.
These standards set the minimum expectations and ensure continuity across our business, while at the same time allow contractors the flexibility to work under their own health and safety systems.
At Browns Range there are low levels of uranium and thorium contained in the mineralisation, which is a common occurrence for rare earth deposits. The anticipated average mineralised material mined for processing, the tailings, waste rock and the final product exported will all have radionuclide levels below the State and National definitions of a radioactive material. While low, this occurrence is still managed through a formal Radiation Management Plan with specific monitoring and reporting procedures.
Northern Minerals is committed to pursuing a high standard of environmental management throughout its operations. We strive for continual improvement of our environmental performance, the efficient use of resources, and the prevention or minimisation of pollution.
Our project activities are undertaken with a responsibility to balance our economical and operational requirements, with a commitment to minimising our impact on the environment and local communities. To date, a significant amount of environmental surveys and studies have been undertaken across the project area, these include:
- baseline flora and fauna;
- baseline ground and surface water;
- baseline soil and radiation;
- waste rock geochemical characterisation;
- baseline air quality; and
- meteorological characterisation.
This information will inform the development of management and monitoring systems to ensure environmental impacts can be managed appropriately and responsibly. By closely integrating project definition studies with the environmental impact assessment, we will include design elements into the Project to avoid and minimise impacts.
In May 2013, the Project was referred to the WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). On 20 October 2014, the WA Minister for Environment approved the Project, marking the completion of the Project’s primary environmental assessment process. As required by the Ministerial approval, Northern Minerals has conducted an assessment of its compliance with approval conditions during the first 12 months following project approval. No non-compliance matters were identified during the reporting period. A link to the first annual compliance report is provided below.
The Federal Government Department of Environment has assessed Browns Range as a “Not Controlled Action” which means the Project does not require assessment and approval under the EPBC Act 1999.
Work is well underway on a number of subordinate approvals and will be progressed in line with the Project’s development schedule.
The Company is working with government regulators in relation to utilising existing project approvals in conjunction with any additional approvals required to execute stage one of the new business plan.