Programs and Research
Fortescue is committed to establishing environmental research partnerships with leading academics and institutions. This research will help us to better understand our environmental impact and the environments in which we operate.
We currently have a multitude of research projects underway. These projects focus on the Fortescue Marsh communities, vegetation studies on the local Mulga and Samphire plants and dust and air quality modelling. More detail on these research projects is presented in our Public Environment Report.
The Cloudbreak water management system is leading the industry in mine site water management. Our Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) Scheme of groundwater reinjection at Cloudbreak allowed us to return approximately 73 percent of extracted water back into aquifers, greatly reducing our effect on groundwater levels and quality in the region. The process allows us to withdraw water for dewatering of ore pits, and return the balance after site use to the groundwater system to conserve water for future use and minimise environmental effects.
This highly successful initiative was recognised at both the Western Australian Water Awards and the Australian Water Association awards with Infrastructure Project Innovation Award for significant and innovative infrastructure projects in the water industry. This award is open to several different sectors and is a testament to the hard work of our Water Team in achieving a leadership position on water management in the mining industry within such a brief period of operation.
As an ongoing partnership since 2008, Fortescue has funded an Australian Research Council (ARC) project at the University of Western Australia to comprehensively survey Samphire vegetation populations in the region. This includes identifying the varieties present, and the environmental factors which impact growth.
Samphire populations are assessed for key health indicators and response to changes in environmental conditions to determine the ideal conditions for Samphire growth. With this information Fortescue can more accurately monitor the health of local vegetation and ensure that suitable environmental conditions are maintained.
This project is scheduled for completion in 2011 with the publication of a PhD thesis and several scientific journal papers detailing the research. The findings of the research will guide the improvement of Fortescue's existing vegetation monitoring programs.