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Find out how Newmont has rehabilitated the Woodcutters mine

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Find out how Newmont has rehabilitated the Woodcutters mine

The Woodcutters mine site in Australia’s Northern Territory is a former lead-zinc mine that was decommissioned in 1999. As the owner and operator of the non-operational site, Newmont has undertaken decommissioning, rehab (rehabilitation) and monitoring activities since acquiring the site in 2002 as a result of the Normandy acquisition.
Under the “Woodcutters Agreement,” we work with the traditional owners of the land – the Kungarakan and Warai people – to undertake closure activities that support the goal to hand over the land to the traditional owners once all agreed-upon closure criteria and objectives have been met. The agreement also details our local employment, training and stakeholder engagement commitments.

Key Facts:

  • Took ownership of the decommissioned Woodcutters lead-zinc mine in the Northern Territory as part of its 2002 acquisition of Normandy
  • Newmont has continued decommissioning, rehabilitation and monitoring activities at the site in partnership with the area’s Traditional Owners, the Kungarakan and Warai people
  • Work is guided by the Woodcutters Agreement which details local employment, training and stakeholder commitments
  • Newmont’s aim is to return the land to Traditional Owners when agreed closure criteria and objectives are met

Two key projects are supporting our goals and obligations. The first is the successful pit closure. Between 1999 and 2005, all tailings from the two tailings dams were relocated into the open pit. The pit was then backfilled with soil to completely fill the pit void, and native grass and tree species were planted. The project benefits included consolidating waste materials to reduce the impacted footprint, moving contaminated materials away from ecologically sensitive areas, addressing environmental and safety risks by filling the pit void, and creating a more natural landscape.

The second project addressed an issue that arose in 2011 when salt precipitates formed within the footprints of the reclaimed tailings dams. To avoid potential impacts to waterways, we consulted extensively with the traditional owners and other relevant stakeholders on remediation options focused on post-mining land use, and agreed to a remediation plan that raised the ground elevation of the tailings dams. This project involved significant earthworks that required 480,000 cubic meters of material to backfill the tailings dams. As part of the plan, the material used would come from a newly constructed “borrow pit,” which would be reclaimed and turned into a wetland at completion. The creation of a wetland was the preferred option chosen by the traditional owners. Aquatic ecologists from James Cook University were consulted on a design that would make the borrow pit conducive to forming a wetland, and hydrologists helped determine seasonal water levels so the borrow pit would be deep enough to retain water year-round and maintain aquatic life.

For the second project, we selected Rusca Bros Services Pty Ltd, a 100 percent locally owned, indigenous civil, mining and recruitment organization, as the earthworks contractor. Work commenced in 2016 and was completed in 2017. More than 20,000 hours were worked on the project without injury and with an indigenous employment rate of 90 percent.

In early 2018, we will begin planting wetland vegetation in the borrow pit using a local indigenous workforce. Ongoing engagement with traditional owners and other stakeholders will continue to meet their expectations and support the goal to hand over the land to the traditional owners.

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