Results - Individual Facility Detail

2008/2009 report for MOUNT ISA MINES LTD, Mount Isa Mines - Mount Isa, QLD

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Report Details:
Reporting Year:
Subthreshold Report:
Data period start:
July 1, 2008
Data period end:
June 30, 2009
Other reports for this facility:
Facility Details:
Facility Name:
Mount Isa Mines
Jurisdiction ID:
Street Address:
RAILWAY AV  Mount Isa  QLD  4825
Number of Employees:
Owner/Operator Details:
Company Name:
Contact Details:
Name / Position:
Ms Maryann Wipaki / Manager Sustainable Development
(07) 4744 8805
Postal Address:
Private Mail Bag 6  Mount Isa  QLD  4825
Web Address:
Industry Details:
Main Activities:
Mining: Copper/Lead/Zinc Concentrating: Copper/Zinc/Lead Smelting: Copper/Lead
Primary ANZSIC:
Class: Copper, Silver, Lead and Zinc Smelting and Refining [2133]
Group: Basic Non-Ferrous Metal Manufacturing [213]
Cleaner Production Activities
Activity Comments
Improved maintenance scheduling, record keeping, or procedures Maintance of environmental controls are monitored using an automated database that issues "standard work orders" to initiaite the task and has a 'close out function' Housekeeping inspections are completed in each area on a routine basis to reduce the likelihood of unnecessary materials being left exposed.
Changed production schedules to minimise equipment/feedstock changeovers Scheduling of materials mined and imported to site is optimised to minimise the amount of handling. This reduces the amount dust being emitted from surface activities.
Modified process, equipment, layout, or piping Addtional earthworks have been compelted to further reduce the likelihood of stormwater discharges from site. Any water captured in these systems is either recycled directly into the process or is pumped to a large site storage where it can be utilised for dust suppression during dry periods.
Improved procedures for loading, unloading or transfer operations Water sprays have been installed on the main surface crusher. This assists to reduce surface dust emissions.
Installed overflow alarms or automatic shut-off valves There is a comprehensive stormwater management system on site. Significant ponds are alarmed such that a central control is notified when stormwater containments are approaching their capacity. In these instances the area superviser is notified so that additional controls can be put in place.
Changed product specifications 'Quick Break' degreasers are substituted in place of solent based degreasers where possible.
Modified packaging Bulk materials are used as much as possible on site to reduce the amount of packaging that takes up valuable landfill space plus also reduces the loss of product in the residual amounts that can be normally disposed with the packaging.
Implemented inspection or monitoring program for potential spill or leak sources In internal environmental incident procedure has been implemented on site. Environmental incidents are used positively to assess the adequacy of controls in the event of an incident.

Dust suppression - water sprays/chemical suppression Water sprays have been employed on conveyors and some stockpile areas. In surface mining operations the application of a chemical dust supressent is also used to minimise dust.
Use of cleaner raw materials There are a number of initiatives employed at site to reduce the demand on virgin natural resources. This includes the use of waste heat from our copper smelter in generating power at the Mines Power Station; the installation of a 'Pelton wheel' which uses the gravitational force of chilled water being fed underground to generate additional electricity; the mining of tailings and use of by-products from grinding ciruits in the zinc-lead- HMR use as fill in the underground
Dust suppression - wind breaks/covered/enclosed stockpiles A large proportion of the operations are located in a long valley that divides the operations with the community. It also acts as a significant windbreak providing similar to 'pit retention' characteristics
Community consultative committee A comprehensive community engagement program has been established by Mount Isa Mines. On a routine basis advertised community information sessions are held at the local Civic Centre for the community to here about the operations' performance, current initiatives, and for the community raise any issues they may have. When any significant projects are undertaken then special briefings are arranged with the community amd other stakeholders.
Other modifications / practices During 2008 and 2009 two significant cleaner production intiatives have been progressing. These include the Smelter Emissions Project and the Lead Pathways Study. The Smelter Emissions Project aims for greater than 95% capture and treatment of sulfur dioxide from the copper smelter by 2012 and greater than 98% capture and treatment of sulfur dioxide from the lead smelter by 2013. It is anticipated that the very large majority of any dusts associated with this gas will also be captured.

The Lead Pathways Study is a 3 yr doctorate study assessing potential pathways of lead that could migrate from our operations into the community through air, land and water, and also to assess the risk to human and ecological health.
Pollution Control Devices
Device Installed (year) Comments
Electrostatic precipitator 1994 Before gas that it diverted to the copper smelter stack (ie. acid plant is not available or it's capacity to receive gas volume is exceeded) passes to the atmosphere it goes through an electrostatic precipitator. The prevailing winds are towards the NW which is in a direction away from the community.

The dusts collected by the electrostatic precipitator are leached in a plant to remove additional copper metal after which it is neutralised and fixated in the underground for fill.
Fabric filter/baghouse 1992 3 bag houses in the lead smelter remove particulates in gas emissions before they are diverted to the 270m stack. The prevailing winds are towards the NW which is in a direction away from the community.
Wet scrubber 2001 Before gas is transfered from the copper smelter to the Acid Plant it passes through a wet scrubber.
Public Statement:
Xstrata Mount Isa Mines has reported substantial decreases in five of the six emissions compounds to the NPI database in 2008/09 for which it was the top emitter the previous year. These decreases in lead, zinc, arsenic, antimony and cadmium were partly due to an increased volume of sampling which has improved confidence in emissions estimates. Sulphur dioxide emissions were slightly higher, due to shutdowns by Incitec Pivot’s acid plant which takes sulphur dioxide gas from the copper smelter and turns it into liquid sulphuric acid. This acid is a key component in fertiliser manufacturing. Xstrata Mount Isa Mines operates two separate mining and processing streams, copper and zinc-lead-silver, at Mount Isa. Together the company’s mines form one of the largest underground mining operations in the world. This significant operational footprint is comparable to the sum of multiple individual mines and industrial facilities listed on the NPI. Xstrata Mount Isa Mines is committed to reporting its sustainability performance and we aim to minimise the environmental impacts of our operations. The health and safety of the Mount Isa community is Xstrata's number one priority. The NPI provides data solely on emissions at the source and does not measure emissions into the community. It also does not take into account the comprehensive measures in place at Mount Isa to limit potential impacts of these emissions on the environment and local community. Xstrata’s Air Quality Control Centre (AQCC) plays an important role in monitoring emissions in the Mount Isa community. The AQCC, first introduced in 1975, is a state-of-the-art monitoring system that incorporates 15 monitoring stations throughout Mount Isa to monitor ambient air quality levels. These real-time monitoring stations ensure the AQCC can shutdown smelting operations well in advance of any adverse weather conditions affecting emission levels in the local community. Mount Isa has one of the most intensive air quality monitoring system of any city in Australia with every resident in living no more than 1,200 metres from a real-time monitoring station. We also welcome independent air monitoring by the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) in Mount Isa. This new monitor will supplement our world class air monitoring system in Mount Isa which continues to provide data to the DERM. We support any additional steps which increase public confidence that Mount Isa is a safe place to live. Xstrata Mount Isa Mines continues to operate within its current licence limits and we are working with the Queensland Government to implement the upcoming changes to our environmental regulation. We have invested over $200 million on over 80 environmental improvements in the past six years. Since 2000, when the acid plant was commissioned, sulphur dioxide emissions from our copper smelter have been reduced by around 76%. Xstrata Mount Isa Mines is undertaking a wide range of environmental initiatives, including the Smelter Emissions Project and the Lead Pathways Study. The Smelter Emissions Project, established in July 2007, is continuing to assess the feasibility of further capture and treatment of sulphur dioxide emissions and heavy metals emissions from the copper smelter and lead smelter. Xstrata has commissioned an independent Lead Pathways Study to examine potential sources of lead in the community – including both naturally occurring minerals and those from mining operations. The Lead Pathways Study is a comprehensive research program being conducted by the University of Queensland’s Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation in collaboration with the National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology. Xstrata is committed to this study and will continue to keep the community informed of the study’s progress. For more information on Mount Isa Mines please visit or contact our 24-hour Community Relations Line on freecall 1 800 336 297.
First published:
March 31, 2010
Last updated:
March 31, 2010


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