Western Australian Operations
In 1961, the State Government and Alcoa entered into an agreement allowing Alcoa to mine and refine bauxite within a defined Mineral Lease on the Darling Range, extending from Mundaring to Collie. This mineral lease is known as ML1SA. The agreement grants Alcoa the right to mine bauxite within ML1SA until 2045, at which time Alcoa has the option to extend its lease for a further period of time.
Alcoa currently operates two bauxite mines within ML1SA, producing over 32 million tonnes of bauxite per year. The Huntly mine is located near Dwellingup and is the world’s largest bauxite mine, supplying bauxite ore to the Pinjarra and Kwinana Refineries. The Willowdale mine is located east of Waroona and supplies bauxite ore to the Wagerup Refinery.
Alcoa’s bauxite mining operations are overseen by the Mining and Management Program Liaison Group (MMPLG) which is chaired by the Department of Industry and Resources, on behalf of the Minister for State Development. The other State Government agencies represented on the MMPLG are the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), the Department of Consumer and Employment Protection (DoCEP), the Water Corporation and the Department of Water. The MMPLG is responsible for reviewing mine plans and associated activities and making recommendations to the Minister for State Development.
The Mine Operations Group (MOG), Bauxite Hydrology Group (BHG) and CAR (Comprehensive, Adequate, Representative) Informal Reserves Evaluation Committee (CARIREC) are sub-committees of the MMPLG. The role of MOG is to oversee and report to the MMPLG on the environmental (including forest clearing) and community issues arising from the day-to-day operational activities conducted at Alcoa’s mines.
The role of the BHC is to investigate and report on the influence of mining operations on the salinity balance of soil and waters.
CARIREC was established as a result of a process agreed to by the MMPLG and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), to evaluate Alcoa’s planned incursions into CAR Informal Reserves within Alcoa’s mining lease, as required under the Regional Forest Agreement.
CARIREC reports its findings and recommendations to the MMPLG, which in turn makes its recommendation direct to the EPA on the acceptability of Alcoa’s proposals.
Five Year Mine Plan:
Each year, Alcoa submits a Five Year Mine Plan, to the Mining Management Program and Liaison Group (MMPLG) for Ministerial approval. The Five Year Mine Plan summarises the major environmental management programs which will be undertaken at the mine, with emphasis on issues relevant to the next five years.
Prior to Ministerial approval being granted, the following process occurs.
1) A draft Mining and Management Program (MMP) containing a five year mining schedule is submitted to the MMPLG.
2) After consideration and field inspections by the MMPLG, feedback including questions or concerns relating to the plan is provided to Alcoa.
3) Alcoa revises the draft plan if necessary and resubmits the document to the MMPLG.
4) The MMPLG makes its recommendations on the revised plan to the Minister for State Development who grants the final approval.
5) Implementation of the management programs in the Five Year Plan are monitored by the MMPLG.
Each year during the development of the draft Five Year Mine Plan, Alcoa identifies any properties that may be affected by the mining operations proposed for the coming five year period. Alcoa contacts the owners of these properties to offer them the opportunity to meet with Alcoa employees to discuss our current and future mine plans and to come on a tour of the operations.
The purpose of these consultations is to:
- assist mine neighbours to understand the nature of Alcoa’s mining operations;
- inform neighbours who they can contact if they have any questions or concerns about Alcoa’s operations;
- enable Alcoa to gain an understanding of any concerns that the neighbour may have about Alcoa’s operations; and
- provide Alcoa employees with the opportunity to get to know each neighbour and their individual circumstances in order to encourage engagement between Alcoa and our neighbours.
Alcoa considers the feedback received during these consultations in the development and finalisation of the Five Year Mine Plan. Alcoa cannot mine on private property unless an agreement is reached with the owners.
With our Kwinana Refinery sitting in an industrial strip, close to Perth, it has very little unused land around the operations. The land management around Kwinana is largely focused around our residue operations. Read more about residue management.
Local Wetlands Restoration:
A natural wetland close to Alcoa’s Kwinana operations, known as The Spectacles, is jointly managed by Alcoa and the WA Department of Environment and Conservation. The wetland in Mandogalup is a unique paperback wetland and part of the Beelier Regional Park, with a rich indigenous and European cultural history that is highly valued in the local township.
Alcoa’s Wellard wetland, in Baldivis, is a created wetland in which low value farmland used for clay mining has been rehabilitated to a significant wetland site. It provides habitat to many species of birds.
The Wagerup Refinery has a Land Use Management Plan which specifically addresses land use planning and the successful integration and interaction between heavy industry, farming and conservation. It addresses land management issues for wetlands, vegetation, fauna, heritage and visual amenity. Wagerup’s Land Use Management Plan protects areas of remnant vegetation and progressively enhances and links these areas with ecological corridors for native fauna. Natural or realigned watercourses on Alcoa’s property have been rehabilitated to create corridors for fauna movement.
Work undertaken by Alcoa to enhance the existing flora and fauna features of the land surrounding Wagerup include:
- planting of aquatic plants and sedges at Lake Knapping;
- weed control at Exelby and Blind Roo Wetlands, Bancell Road and Lake Knapping;
- extensive earth works, planting and infill planting along Somers Road;
- participation in the Harvey River Restoration Taskforce Bancell Brook Project;
- weed control, planting and feral animal control in the South West Ecological Corridor;
- screen planting on McClure Road;
- weed control in preparation for future planting in the Bancell Road Rail Loop; and
- refinery planting and landscaping.
Land Management Strategy
Alcoa implemented a land management strategy in 2001/02 for the area around the Wagerup Refinery. The land management strategy enabled people living in the immediate vicinity of the Wagerup Refinery to sell their properties to Alcoa if they desired to do so. This Land Management Strategy does not have formal status in planning schemes or legislation.
The strategy consisted of land purchases in Area A and Area B.
Area A & Area B
Area A covers the area immediately surrounding the refinery. Area B covers certain areas of Yarloop and Hamel outside of Area A.
Alcoa does not on-sell properties purchased in Area A. However, many Area A properties bought by Alcoa are rented out, sometimes to the previous owners. In Area B, many properties bought by Alcoa have been re-sold to maintain property values and support the viability of the town sites.
Supplementary Property Purchase Program (SPPP)
The Supplementary Property Purchase Program (SPPP) was established in October 2006 under the terms of a deed between the then State Government and Alcoa, whereby Alcoa agreed to fund a program administered by a Government appointed independent administrator to enable eligible property owners, (outside Area A and Area B) in the localities of Hamel, Wagerup, Yarloop and Cookernup to sell their properties to Alcoa if they wished to do so. Purchases under the SPPP commenced in March 2007 and concluded in December 2008.
The SPPP formed part of the environmental approval by the former WA Government, granted in September 2006 for Alcoa’s proposed Wagerup Refinery expansion. (Please note, work on the Wagerup expansion is currently suspended due to the uncertainty of secure future energy supply and the current global economic climate).
The Pinjarra Refinery has a Land Management Plan which specifically addresses wetlands, vegetation, fauna, heritage, visual amenity, agriculture and public areas. There are several natural areas of regional significance included in the refinery’s landholdings including sites of rare and priority flora, conservation category wetlands, and areas of State and national heritage significance.
We are committed to identifying, preserving and restoring these areas where practicable. The refinery’s Land Management Program protects areas of remnant vegetation and progressively enhances and links these areas with ecological corridors for native fauna. Natural or realigned watercourses on Alcoa’s property have been rehabilitated to create corridors for fauna movement.