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Climate adaptation and ‘Rain Immunisation’

Climate adaptation and ‘Rain Immunisation’
Construction of flood defences and water storage facilities Construction of flood defences and water storage facilities is a key part of Coal’s Rain Immunisation Project.

A critical water-related challenge that we face at our Coal operations in Australia is the significant variability in rainfall. Our operations are located in regions that at times oscillate between severe drought and flood conditions. Current scientific evidence suggests that climate change may result in a further increase in rainfall variability in the long term.

The need to adapt to these extreme weather events was brought home to us by the severe 2010-2011 wet season, during which our operations received more than 1,000 mm of rainfall. Although we had systems in place to redirect and store water, this unusually heavy rain resulted in critical parts of our mining operations becoming inoperable.

Coal production was impacted by the closure of access roads, the flooding of opencast pits and underground areas. With the capacity of our pumping and pipe systems being exceeded, and an inability to pump water from the mine into the local water courses under controlled release conditions (owing to environmental regulation in place at the time), our ability to function was severely impacted.

In response to this event we initiated the ‘Rain Immunisation Project’, a climate adaptation initiative that seeks to decrease the environmental risks and production time loss at Moranbah North, Capcoal, Foxleigh and Dawson. The first phase is now complete. The project includes extensive pump and piping works, improved flood protection infrastructure, road-sheeting works on semi-permanent roads, and upgrades to underground mines, drainage network, storage and dewatering capacity. This work provided the basis for wet weather plans at each of our operations, which also take into account possible drought scenarios.

Through extensive engagement with the Queensland regulator, we have obtained flexibility in our water-release conditions, which makes it easier for our operations to meet local water quality release criteria, particularly in emergency situations. In addition to this, we are currently planning a desalination plant at our Capcoal operation that will treat up to 10 Ml/day of mine-affected water. This will reduce our reliance on external sources of high quality water and it will enable us to release excess clean water to the environment.

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