Chapter 5 Environmental Management Plan

Chapter 5 Environmental Management Plan Table of Contents 5. Environmental Management Plan ............................................................
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Chapter 5 Environmental Management Plan

Table of Contents 5. Environmental Management Plan ............................................................................................................ 1 5.1

Introduction ................................................................................................................................... 1 5.1.1 Environmental Management Objectives ............................................................................... 1 5.1.2 Structure, Implementation and Review ................................................................................. 1 5.1.3 Roles and Responsibilities .................................................................................................... 3 5.1.4 Internal Monitoring, Incident Response and Reporting ......................................................... 5 5.1.5 Legislation and Standards ..................................................................................................... 7 5.2 Project Description ...................................................................................................................... 10 5.2.1 Project Location ................................................................................................................. 10 5.2.2 Project Activities ................................................................................................................ 12 5.2.3 Project Stakeholders ........................................................................................................... 14 5.2.4 Environmental Policy ......................................................................................................... 16 5.2.5 Issues Requiring Specific Management Strategies................................................................ 16 5.3 Environmental Management Commitments .................................................................................. 19 5.3.1 Geology, Geohazards and Soils .......................................................................................... 19 5.3.2 Water Quality and Flow ..................................................................................................... 25 5.3.3 Aquatic Ecology ................................................................................................................. 46 5.3.4 Terrestrial Ecology .............................................................................................................. 54 5.3.5 Air Quality ......................................................................................................................... 64 5.3.6 Noise ................................................................................................................................. 69 5.3.7 Cultural Heritage ................................................................................................................ 75 5.3.8 Waste Management ............................................................................................................ 82 5.3.9 Transportation .................................................................................................................... 91 5.3.10 Society and Community Values .......................................................................................... 98

Appendices Appendix A Weekly Environmental Inspection Template Appendix B Incident Response Form Template Appendix C Complaint Response Form Template Appendix D Cultural Heritage Management Plan



Environmental Management Plan


Introduction This Environmental Management Plan (EMP) has been prepared for the SMM Solomon Limited (SMM Solomon) Solomon Islands Nickel Project (the Project) for the purpose of providing a stand-alone plan for managing the potential environmental and social impacts of proposed construction and operation activities on Choiseul Island. This EMP is based on the assessments and findings of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).


Environmental Management Objectives SMM Solomon is committed to using existing proven, industry and best practice strategies to minimise impacts, and to integrating environmental management and this EMP into the Project design, construction and operation. The overall objectives for environmental management throughout the Project are provided below. 1. Propose practical measures to avoid, reduce, restore or compensate for identified adverse impacts. 2. Conserve highly significant aspects of the biophysical, cultural and social environments. 3. Protect human health and safety. 4. Inform an environmentally sound and sustainable engineering design process. 5. Propose a plan to monitor and manage Project implementation, such that the Project is environmentally sustainable and optimises resource use.


Structure, Implementation and Review

Structure This EMP has been developed based on a number of individual specialist studies and reports prepared for the EIS. The specialist studies assessed the environmental values and the potential for impacts to these from the proposed Project. Risk assessments were undertaken to determine the significance of each potential impact based on a consequence and probability matrix, producing a low, medium or high significance level for each impact. Management measures have been proposed with the aim of reducing these risk levels. For each environmental and social element, the following is described within this EMP: •

summary of environmental values (from the EIS)

summary of potential impacts (from the EIS)

management objectives – main outcomes to be achieved overall by management measures, based on impacts assessed as having potentially high significance

management strategies (in table format), including for each potential impact:

facility – areas and facilities relevant to the impact (mine areas, haulage including ore handling and transportation, port areas and marine operations, general infrastructure)

stage – stage of works relevant to the impact (construction including design and preconstruction, operation including decommissioning and rehabilitation)


criteria – performance standards to meet that are measurable or quantifiable wherever possible

management actions – individual tasks and on-site actions that can be undertaken at the relevant facility and stage

monitoring – continuing assessment of performance of management actions

auditing, corrective action and reporting – procedures for reviewing and auditing management activities, remediating or amending after impacts or non-conformity occurs, responding to incidents, and keeping appropriate records.

A mitigation hierarchy (refer to Figure 5-1) was used within each specialist study and is best practice guidance for understanding the scope of mitigation measures. The mitigation hierarchy emphasises the principle of preventing environmental impacts from happening in the first instance and if this is not possible then limiting the impacts to an acceptable level (ICMM 2006).

Figure 5-1 The Mitigation Hierarchy Source: ICMM 2006 and BBOP 2009

Implementation Based on the EMP implementation guide within the Environmental Impact Assessment for Developing Countries in Asia (Lohani et al. 1997), this EMP is planned to be implemented as follows: 1. Final detailed design will incorporate specifications and plans for meeting the approved EIS. 2. Construction contract specifications will include all required mitigation measures. 3. Construction contractors’ performance will be internally monitored and audited against the EMP and relevant plans and drawings, including daily and weekly inspections, and monthly internal reporting of environmental incidents and corrective actions taken. 4. Implementation and auditing of the monitoring program throughout the construction and operation stages, including actions recommended to improve ongoing environmental management. 5. Reporting and evidence of the above steps during the various Project stages. Project activities will be undertaken within an Environmental Management System, which will be established at the commencement of the Project. This EMP will form the basis of a Construction EMP and an Operations EMP to be developed following detailed design.


The review and sign-off of the EMP will be a Hold Point for the Project construction stage (i.e. no construction stage works shall commence before these plans are approved by the Environmental Manager and Construction/Project Manager). All staff will be inducted to the Project and their relevant work sites prior to commencing any work. The induction will instruct staff on the health, safety and environmental awareness and management obligations for the Project and the EMP for the duration of the Project. Inductions will include (as a minimum) explanation of: •

the Environmental Policy

duty of care and reporting responsibilities for all persons

key environmental values and their management

key health and safety issues

cultural sensitivity

hazard assessment, management and reporting processes

emergency procedures.

Review, Audit and Updating The EMP documentation will be reviewed prior to implementation to ensure management actions are adequate for the site and activities. This review will consider any further approval conditions, documentation or studies that are relevant and available. The review and sign-off of the EMP and associated specific plans will be a Hold Point for the Project construction stage (i.e. no construction stage works shall commence before these plans are approved by the Environmental Manager and Construction/Project Manager). A half-yearly internal audit of the EMP implementation will be undertaken, including a review of records, data and other documentation and on-site management current on the day of the audit inspection. Where considered necessary, the EMP will be updated or revised to incorporate issues identified through emergencies, incidents, inspections, monitoring or audits. An annual review of the EMP will be undertaken to assess the appropriateness to current and proposed activities, monitoring data or studies, approvals, standards and legislation.


Roles and Responsibilities

Construction/Project Manager The Construction Manager and Project Manager will be responsible for the following: •

Ensuring compliance with the EMP and relevant approvals.

Report significant environmental incidents or emergencies to the local relevant authority to ensure remediation applied is appropriate and acceptable.

Maintain general communications with stakeholders and authorities to inform them of planned activities where relevant.

Certify additional management plans to be attached to and incorporated into the EMP.

Commission additional studies if considered necessary following monitoring results, significant events or incidents (for example).


Site Supervisors The Site Supervisors will be responsible for the following in their area of works: •

Ensure the measures detailed in the Construction or Operations EMPs and associated plans and specifications are implemented correctly, on schedule, and are effective and appropriate for the site and activities.

Sign-off on additional plans and drawings prior to construction or implementation, such as the Hold Point for erosion and sediment control measures to be in place prior to clearing and earthworks commencing for a mine area.

Daily inspections of activities and mitigation measures with corrective actions taken and recorded where necessary, or other resolutions made and their justification.

Ensure periodic collection of data from weather station and any data loggers is occurring.

Report environmental incidents to the Construction/Project Manager and Environmental Manager/Officer immediately after becoming aware of them.

Ensure all personnel have the relevant qualifications and training to carry out their relevant tasks and roles.

Hold daily pre-start toolbox meetings with personnel to discuss the current Project activities and the health, safety and environmental issues associated with these.

Take corrective action or otherwise respond to management needs following SMM Solomon onsite inspections and EMP audits.

Environmental Team The Environmental Team is likely to consist of an Environmental Manager, Environmental Officers and Community Liaison Officer, who will be responsible for the following: •

Review of EMP following detailed design in order to verify that the proposed measures are adequate for the site and activities, detailed design and specifications have been incorporated, and documentation is present (e.g. daily and weekly inspection checklists, emergency/incident response form, and complaint response form).

Provide input to site inductions for all personnel in terms of environmental values, potential impacts from the project, management measures, and reporting of incidents and emergencies.

Weekly inspections of environmental mitigation measures implemented on-site to check functioning and effectiveness.

Undertake or coordinate the various monitoring activities, such as water quality data collection.

Lead investigations into any significant environmental incidents and monitor the close-out of these incidents.

Monthly internal reporting to the Construction/Project Manager on environmental incidents and corrective actions taken (or other resolutions made) and results of ongoing monitoring activities.

Half-yearly internal audits of EMP implementation (of both documentation/records and on-site controls).

Annual internal review and subsequent update of the EMP.

Liaison with environmental authorities, conservation groups, stakeholders, and provincial or local agencies.


All Personnel All project personnel will have a general duty of care to take reasonable and practicable actions to not cause environmental harm. All staff will have a responsibility to report potentially harmful activities (environmental or otherwise) to their Site Supervisor. All staff involved in the construction, operation and decommissioning activities will be appropriately qualified and trained to undertake their project roles and tasks. All staff will be inducted to the project and their relevant work sites prior to commencing any work. All site staff must attend the toolbox meeting prior to work commencing each day. Personnel in charge of vehicles or machinery will undertake daily pre-start checks to ensure equipment is in good working condition, does not need any repairs or maintenance, does not have excess dirt or material, and contains all necessary equipment within it (e.g. spill kits, fire extinguishers). A checklist will be kept in each vehicle to record daily pre-start checks.


Internal Monitoring, Incident Response and Reporting

Monitoring All monitoring data and results will be recorded, compiled and retained for five years (minimum). Specific monitoring programs are described in the management strategies tables for each environmental element within this EMP. Monitoring programs will be undertaken in accordance with recognised standards, codes and guidelines in order to establish and maintain appropriate and consistent sampling protocols, analysis and quality assurance. Monitoring tasks will be undertaken by qualified and trained staff. Laboratory analysis will be undertaken by NATA accredited laboratories. All monitoring records, raw data and resultant reporting will be kept in Project documentation on-site and be made available to relevant authorities upon request.

Inspections Daily inspections of work areas will be undertaken by the Site Supervisor throughout the course of their daily activities. The issues to be checked during daily inspections include: •

condition and function of existing erosion and sediment controls

need for additional erosion and sediment controls, taking into consideration (and recording) current or forecast weather

flora and fauna protection measures (particularly during clearing activities)

weed or pest problems

slope drainage and diversion measures

access and haul road conditions

presence of litter or inappropriately disposed waste

any spills (e.g. fuel or hydraulic hose leaks).

Weekly environmental inspections of work areas and implemented management measures will be undertaken by the Environmental Officer, and will include the above environmental elements and any other management issues observed.


The Weekly Environmental Inspection Template attached as Appendix A can be used to record relevant information and to prompt the user to identify issues during site inspections. Monthly internal environmental reporting will include issues that are recurring on inspection records. All inspection records will be kept in Project documentation on-site and be made available to relevant authorities upon request.

Incidents and Emergencies Any events that are considered incidents or emergencies will be addressed, recorded and reported. Incidents and emergencies may include: •

a contaminant spill (to land, air or water)

injury or death to native wildlife

a disturbance to a protected area, exclusion zone or area outside of the designated Project area

significant non-conformance or non-compliance with an approval or with specific criteria in the EMP (e.g. water quality trigger values)

action or event that causes or has the potential to cause significant environmental harm

an environmental event endangering personnel or broader community health or safety (i.e. near miss or actual incident), such as a bushfire or contaminant spill.

Staff will notify the Site Supervisor immediately upon becoming aware of an incident or emergency, who will then notify the Project Manager and Environmental Officer, where relevant. The authority will be notified as soon as possible after becoming aware of any emergency, incident or action that has or could potentially result in environmental harm. This will be followed by written advice to the authority that will describe the nature of the emergency or incident, the actions taken at the time of the event, any additional monitoring of the situation and impacts, and the proposed actions to prevent a similar occurrence in the future. The Incident Response Form Template attached as Appendix B can be used to record the required information for notification, corrective action, and reporting purposes. An Emergency Response Form will be included in the Emergency Response Plan to be developed. Monthly internal environmental reporting will include information about any incidents or emergencies and responses and actions taken as a result. All incident and emergency records will be kept in Project documentation on-site and be made available to relevant authorities upon request.

Complaints/Grievance Procedure More information on the complaints or grievance process is provided in the Grievance Procedure for the Project. Any complaints/grievances received that relate to this Project’s activities require at least the following to be recorded: •

time and date of complaint

form of complaint (e.g. written, in person)

name and address of complainant

nature of complaint


name of person responding to complaint

response, investigation and corrective actions resulting from complaint.

The Complaint Response Form Template attached at the end of Appendix C can be used to record this information. Monthly internal environmental reporting will include information about any complaints received and responses and actions taken as a result. All complaint records will be kept in Project documentation on-site and be made available to relevant authorities upon request.


Legislation and Standards Table 5-1 below provides the environmental management and mining legislation and standards that are considered to be applicable to the Project, including overarching as well as issue-specific documents. The legislation and guidelines that apply to the structure and content of EMPs are described further in the following sections. Table 5-1 – Overview of Environmental Legislation and Standards


Legislation, Standards, Agreements and Guidelines

General Environmental and Mining Management

• •

Geology and soils

Nature conservation

Surface and groundwater

Solomon Islands Legislation: Environment Act 1998 and subordinate Environmental Regulations 2008; Mines and Minerals Act 1996; Provincial Government Act 1997 International Standards: International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) Environmental Standards and Good Practice Guidance for Mining and Biodiversity; International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability; World Bank Group (WBG)/IFC Environmental, Health and Safety General and Mining Guidelines; International Agreements: The Equator Principles Financial Institutions (EPFI); United Nations (UN) Global Compact; Global Reporting Initiative Guidelines: Solomon Islands Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines; Environmental Impact Assessment for Developing Countries in Asia; Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) Queensland Environmental Protection Act 1994 International Standards: International Organization for Standardization (ISO) soil quality sampling Solomon Islands Legislation: Protected Areas Act 2010; Wildlife Protection and Management Act 1998; Fisheries Act 1998; The Forest Act 1999; Forest Resources Timber Utilisation Act 1991 International Agreements: International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Red List of Threatened Species; Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program (BBOP); Convention on Biological Diversity Guidelines: Australian Government Environmental Offsets Policy under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (draft 2011); Queensland Government Environmental Offsets Policy (2008) Solomon Islands Legislation: Solomon Islands Water Authority Act 1993; Environmental Health Act 1980; River Waters Act 1969; Water Resources Act (Draft) 2008 International Standards: WBG/IFC Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines



Legislation, Standards, Agreements and Guidelines

Cultural heritage

• •

Air and noise

Social, transport and land use

• •


for Water and Sanitation and Wastewater and Ambient Water Quality; ISO 5667:2006 Water quality – Sampling; AS/NZS 2031: 2001 Guidelines: ANZECC-ARMCANZ Australian and New Zealand Fresh and Marine Water Quality and Australian Drinking Water Standards (ADWS); World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality (GDWQ); Legislation: Choiseul Province Preservation of Culture Ordinance 1997 Guidelines: UN Guidelines on the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of Indigenous Peoples International Standards: WBG/IFC Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines for Mining, Environmental, Air Emissions and Ambient Air Quality, and Noise Management; US EPA National Ambient Air Quality Standards; WHO Guidelines for Air Quality, Air quality guidelines for particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide – global update 2005, and Guidelines for Community Noise; ISO 1996-2:2007 – Acoustics Guidelines: DERM Queensland Environmental Protection (Air) Policy 2008; Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Approved Methods for the Modelling and Assessment of Air Pollutants in New South Wales; Australian Standard (AS)4156.6:2000 for air monitoring and ISO for air and noise monitoring Solomon Islands Legislation: Ports Act 1996; Civil Aviation Act 1986; Quarantine Act 1978; Customs and Excise Act 1960, Petroleum Act 1987; Safety at Work Act 1982; Workmen Compensation Act 1952; Labour Act 1996; International Standards: WBG/IFC Environmental, Health and Safety General Guidelines; International Agreements: Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973; London Convention; Waigani Convention; Protocol 1 Dumping; Protocol 2 Emergencies; Liability for Oil Pollution Damage Guidelines: International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code; International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code; International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC) Solomon Islands Legislation: Shipping Act 1998; Marine Safety Administration Act 2009; Agriculture Quarantine Act 1996; Environmental Health Act 1996 and Environmental Health (Public Health Act) Regulations 2006; Pharmacy and Poisons Act 1988; Explosives Act 1996; Petroleum Act 1996; International Standards: WBG/IFC Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines for Waste Management, Hazardous Materials Management, Construction and Decommissioning, Community Health and Safety, Mining, Ports Harbours and Terminals, and Waste Management Facilities; International Agreements: Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973; London Convention; Stockholm Convention; Waigani Convention; Noumea Convention; Protocol 1 Dumping; Protocol 2 Emergencies; UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III) Guidelines: Australian Standards Technical Manual (ASTM) for waste sampling, treatment, disposal and management


Solomon Islands Environment Act 1998 The Solomon Islands Environment Act 1998 establishes an integrated system of development control, environmental impact assessment and pollution control (ECD 2010). It complies with regional and international conventions and obligations relating to the environment. In order to assess any potentially significant impact to the unique characteristics of the Solomon Islands, the Solomon Island’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, outlined in the Environment Act 1998, provides a mechanism to ensure integrated environmental considerations are taken into account within the decision making process. The EIA process has two stated aims: •

The immediate aim of EIA is to inform the process of decision making by identifying the potentially significant environmental effects and risks of development proposals.

The long term aim of EIA is to promote sustainable development by ensuring that development proposals do not undermine critical resource and ecological functions or well-being, lifestyle and livelihood of the communities and peoples who depend on them.

Under the second schedule of the Environment Act 1998 extraction of minerals and mining and the associated project infrastructure is a prescribed development. As a result of the Solomon Islands Government’s desire to properly and responsibly manage the country’s natural resources and protect the environment, the Director of the Environment and Conservation Division has determined that an EIS is required for this Project. The Solomon Islands Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines (April 2010), produced by the Environment and Conservation Division, Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Meteorology, states that the purpose of the EIA process is, in part, to promote environmentally sound and sustainable development through the identification of appropriate mitigation measures, and to predict, avoid, minimise or offset the adverse significant environmental and social impacts of development (ECD 2010). Granting an EIA approval requires that a project meets several criteria, including that the development will be carried out in a way that is consistent with all relevant environmental policies and regulations, and has reasonable steps in place to minimise any risk of environmental harm (ECD 2010). Monitoring may be carried out by the approving authority of the development’s environmental impacts, effectiveness of mitigation measures, safeguards and standards adopted for protection of the environment by the project (ECD 2010).

Environmental Impact Assessment for Developing Countries in Asia The Environmental Impact Assessment for Developing Countries in Asia (Lohani et al. 1997) provides guidance on the EIA process for developing countries and is used as a source of information in the Solomon Islands Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines (ECD 2010). It states that one of the goals of the EIA process is to develop an implementable set of environmental protection measures (Lohani et al. 1997). Objectives of project-based monitoring programs within the EIA process are to ensure compliance with the mitigation measures proposed (including offsetting and enhancement measures) and determine the project’s actual environmental impacts so that modifications can be made to mitigation measures if necessary (Asian Development Bank 1994).


Goals of the EMP are to ensure that all necessary corrective actions, both mitigating and offsetting, are carried out to counter adverse environmental impacts, and that enhancement measures are used where feasible and practical. Goals of monitoring programs includes to observe and analyse the project’s impacts, thereby providing information to help in amending or updating mitigation measures to reduce the risks associated with a project (Lohani et al. 1997).

Queensland Environmental Protection Act 1994 Section 203 of Environmental Protection Act 1994 provides the requirements for environmental management within the Queensland EIA process and the contents of an EMP for a mining project, including describing: •

adverse and beneficial impacts

environmental protection commitments to protect or enhance the environmental values under best practice environmental management and that able to be measured and audited

environmental protection objectives with standards and measurable indicators

control strategies including for continuous improvement, environmental auditing, monitoring, reporting and staff training.

The Queensland DERM provides terms of reference and guidelines for preparing a project EIS, including identification and management of impacts for issues in relation to land, transport, waste, water, coastal environment, air, noise and vibration, ecology, cultural heritage, social values, health and safety, economy, and hazard and risk. These terms of reference also provide guidance on the potential mitigation measures for mining projects and the requirement for a stand-alone EMP.

5.2 5.2.1

Project Description Project Location The Project is located in the Solomon Islands in the South-Western Pacific Ocean. The Solomon Islands have a land mass of approximately 28,400 km2 consisting of six major islands and approximately 922 smaller islands, atolls and reefs. The major islands are Choiseul, New Georgia, Santa Isabel, Guadalcanal, Malaita and Makira (also called San Cristobal). While SMM Solomon proposes to mine a number of their existing tenements on both Choiseul and Santa Isabel Islands, this EMP proposes management measures for the proposed activities on Choiseul Island only. The Choiseul 1 tenement is a prospecting licence (PL-06/05) for nickel and cobalt, which was issued on 13 December 2005, was renewed on 10 December 2008 and will expire 6 December 2012. Choiseul 1 is located on the southern end of the island and has an approximate area of 185 km2. SMM Solomon holds 100% of the Choiseul 1 tenement. Refer to Figure 5-2 for Project location and features of Choiseul Island.


Figure 5-2 Project Location and Features on Choiseul Island



Project Activities The construction phase of the Project is scheduled to commence in early 2013 approximately 36 months prior to the commencement of operations in mid-2015. This phase requires both early works (2013) and pre-production (2014) development activities. The construction phase sequencing is as follows: •

implementation of sediment and erosion control measures

establish initial port facilities

establish initial access roads to construction camps

establish temporary “pioneering” construction camps and associated infrastructure

develop construction camps, mine construction infrastructure

establish initial access roads to mine infrastructure and initial mine pits and road sediment control, and initial clearing and stockpiling of the first pits to be mined.

The mining operations phase is defined as the mining and transportation of the ore to the port facility for loading, which is scheduled to commence in 2015 with a 23-year life of mine. The operations phase of the Project is defined in the following stages: •

implementation of sediment and erosion control measures (Stage 1 or 2 depending on catchment area)

mining of limonite and saprolite ore from each individual pit including activities such as access roads, topsoil handling, removal of overburden/waste to recently mined pits, and the mining and movement of ore to stockpiles within 1 km of the mined pit

loading and transportation of stockpiled ore by the long haul fleet for transport to the port

unloading of ore at the port site to separate stockpiles for limonite and saprolite (saprolite is placed on a grizzly to allow the removal of oversized material prior to stockpiling for loading onto the barges), and

loading of ore by excavator onto the barges for delivery to the ocean-going vessels moored at the transhipment locations off-shore.

The progressive rehabilitation and decommissioning/closure process for the Project is planned as: •

progressive rehabilitation during operations, which include the grading of mined out areas to blend with the surrounding landscape and revegetation (including spreading of topsoil and other growing medium) to allow regeneration of vegetation to a natural state

decommissioning/closure, which includes progressive reclamation of close-out areas (during the active life of the mine), active decommissioning and reclamation, transitional stage works during which continuous personnel will not be present, and custodial care after the site is stabilised but where additional activities may be required.

Mine Areas The mine area features include: •

mining pits (including sediment and erosion controls)

mine area roads (including service roads to general infrastructure)

stockpile areas


sediment control and mine stormwater management facilities

lay down areas

workshop and vehicle/machinery maintenance areas

vehicle washdown areas

wastewater facilities

water reticulation within mine industrial areas

power and communications

fuel and hazardous chemicals (reagents) storage facilities

administration areas.

Ore Handling and Transportation (Haulage) The ore handling and transportation features include: •

main haul roads

ore stockpiles

general access roads to mining areas (short term only).

Ports The port facility features include: •

ore screening area (saprolite only)

stockpile areas

jetties and pontoons for passenger ferries

barge landing facilities

transhipping locations

other moorings and landing facilities

container storage areas

maintenance workshops

fuel and hazardous chemicals (reagents) storage facilities

water reticulation facilities

wastewater facilities (including ship wastewater)

solid waste management areas

power and communications areas

vehicle and container washdown areas

customs areas for export

administration areas and laboratories

recycled waste transfer area.


General Infrastructure The Project general infrastructure areas include:


mine industrial areas (MIA) including workshop and vehicle maintenance areas, vehicle washdown areas, wastewater facilities, water reticulation, power and communications, fuel and hazardous chemicals (reagents) storage facilities. and administration buildings

accommodation camps

service roads

quarries and borrow pits

landfill site

water supply (reservoirs/dams, treatment, and reticulation facilities)

power generation facilities


Project Stakeholders

Proponent The Project Proponent is SMM Solomon Limited. SMM Solomon is based in Honiara, Solomon Islands, and is engaged in the exploration and development of mineral deposits within the Solomon Islands. SMM Solomon proposes to develop deposits of lateritic nickel that it has identified during exploration on tenements awarded to the company on Choiseul and Santa Isabel Islands within the Solomon Islands. The Project will be funded through a potential joint venture of the private company and Japanese government.

Government The Environment and Conservation Division, of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, will be assessing the approval application for the EIS and undertaking audits for compliance with the EMP. Other Solomon Islands government agencies potentially relevant to the EMP implementation include the: •

Ministry of Mines and Energy that deals with the rights for and development of mineral resources

Ministry of Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration that deals with work permits, employment rights, and health and safety requirements

Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources that monitor and establish management development plans, giving responsibility for the protection of reefs to provincial governments

Ministry of Health and Medical Services, with delegation to local provinces, that regulates the prevention and containment of diseases and malaria, building safety, and provision and maintenance of sanitary conditions

Ministry of Lands, Survey and Housing, that regulates land acquisitions, registration and relocation processes

Ministry of Forestry

Ministry of Culture and Tourism


Choiseul Provincial Executive that can declare a culturally significant site to be a Protected Place.

Landholders/Communities A number of communities on Choiseul Island may be potentially affected by the Project. The degree to which they are affected depends on the environmental/social value being considered. The relevant communities will be consulted when required, depending on the issue.

Non-Government Organisations The following non-government organisations have been identified as having a potential interest or presence in the Project area: •

Lauru Land Conference of Tribal Communities (LLCTC)

The Nature Conservancy (TNC)

Small and medium enterprise council (SMEC)

Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (Ramsi)

The Business Council of Solomon Islands (BCOSI)

The Association of Solomon Islands Manufacturers (ASIM)

Solomon Islands chamber of commerce


Red Cross

World Bank

World Health Organisation (WHO)

Seventh Day Adventist (SDA)

Nautilus Minerals Limited (NMO)

The Church of Melanesia

Catholic Church

South Seas Evangelical Church.

Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC)

Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ)

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Cocoa Exporters and Producers Association (CEPA)

Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC)

Solomon Islands Women in Business Association (SIWIBA)

United Church

United Nations (UN)

Commodities Exporting and Marketing Authority (CEMA).



Environmental Policy SMM Solomon is committed to protecting and enhancing the natural environmental values within and surrounding the Project area. SMM Solomon is also committed to implementing the ICMM Sustainable Development Framework, which involves a number of relevant principles including:


integrating sustainable development considerations within the corporate decision-making process

upholding fundamental human rights and respecting cultures, customs and values in dealings with employees and others who are affected by activities

implementing risk management strategies based on valid data and sound science

seeking continual improvement of health and safety performance

seeking continual improvement of environmental performance

contributing to conservation of biodiversity and integrated approaches to land use planning

contributing to the social, economic and institutional development of the communities in which they operate

implementing effective and transparent engagement, communication and independently verified reporting arrangements with stakeholders.

Issues Requiring Specific Management Strategies The following impacts have been assessed in the EIS as having potentially high significance prior to any mitigation, for which specific management actions have been proposed in this EMP: •

Land, geology and soils:

changes in landform

landslide and slope failure.

Water quality and flow:

turbidity and sedimentation of marine water

acid mine drainage to freshwater (during operation)

hydrocarbon and other contaminant spills

nickel ore spills

reduction of water supply quality through increased turbidity of streams

introduction of pathogens to water supply

competition for water sources and reduction of flow/quantity of water supply.

Aquatic ecology (freshwater and marine):

turbidity and sedimentation of freshwater and coral reef ecosystems

acid mine drainage to freshwater (during operation)

hydrocarbon and other contaminant spills

nickel ore spills in marine water


loss of catchment area and changes to flow regimes of freshwater

impacts to threatened freshwater and coral species.

Terrestrial ecology:

habitat removal resulting in habitat transformation and/or loss

habitat fragmentation and resulting edge effects reducing habitat value of forest adjacent development and facilities

over-hunting and uncontrolled vegetation clearing due to increase in human population

generation of excessive noise pushing fauna into interior habitat, reducing fauna usage and disturbing fauna behaviour

accidental introduction of invasive species, weed, feral animals and/or exotic species

Air quality:

dust emissions from material excavation and truck loading

dust emissions from road vehicles agitating soil while hauling material on unsealed roads.


noise emissions from mine and associated infrastructure to sensitive receivers

noise emissions from haul roads to sensitive receivers.

Cultural heritage:

disturbance or destruction of known cultural heritage sites

loss of cultural knowledge and values.


land and water contamination from solid non-hazardous and hazardous waste spills

change in land use from the landfill

reduced air quality from odours and gases

impacts to public health and safety and flora and fauna species.


 •

vegetation clearing during construction causing loss of terrestrial habitat and impacts to aquatic habitats through erosion and sedimentation.

Social values:

population increase

increased population leads to increased demand for social services and infrastructure

loss of existing access routes and garden areas at Port site

potential relocation of caretakers on port site lands

delayed or restricted access to and from villages near port areas

influx of workers from other countries/islands may influence cultural and traditional norms


increased pressure on local transport services

increased pressure on land, infrastructure and accommodation from population increase

workers may exhibit anti-social behaviours disrupting island life and causing tension/conflict

adverse visual changes to landscape, skyline and sea from selected viewpoints

poorer quality of sleep or impediment to hunting resulting from light spill

change to structure of local economy

impacts to the tribe and clan systems resulting in:

loss of connection to the landscape

loss of tribal and clan oral tradition

loss of tribal and clan structure

loss of stability and certainty of the ownership of land

disintegration of the tribal and clan systems

fragmentation of society at large

impacts to customary land ownership resulting from the legal determination of tribe and clan boundaries, the influx of new residents and the increased demand for land

increased land disputes resulting on the loss of social license to mine

the dissolution of the kastom land tenure system

impacts to subsistence horticulture resulting from the loss of existing and potential garden areas, the introduction of new crops and the increased demand for crops

the loss of gardens which were established by ancestors

impacts to hunting, fishing and shellfish gathering resulting from population influx, the loss of access, the loss of habitat and decrease in availabilities

a potential reduction in suitable sites for new villages within the tenement

negative impacts resulting from infrastructure, including:

increased demand for food supply

introduction of new products.



Environmental Management Commitments The management of each environmental and social element is described in the following sections.


Geology, Geohazards and Soils The environmental values, potential impacts and risks, and mitigation measures for land, geology and soils management are summarised in this section, and further described in Chapter 4 and the Impact Assessment Report – Geology, Geohazards and Soils.

Environmental Values

Geomorphology and Geohazards

The Solomon Islands is an archipelago composed of six major islands forming a northwest-southeast trending double chain of islands. Most of the islands and their corresponding geology are derived from volcanic activities and crustal uplift due to the presence of active subduction and collision zones between the Indo-Australian and Pacific Tectonic Plates. Choiseul Island is characterised by undulating to moderately steep slopes with elevations ranging from 100 m to 300 m. Numerous fast flowing rivers incise the ridges and converge to channels draining to the coast. High peaks are formed through triple junctions of ridges, while an extinct volcanic cone, rising to a height of 450 m, is found in Keretavalo, northwest of Lokoso. There are rolling to steep gradients (varying from 18% to 50%) in the northeastern portion of the tenement. The inherent geohazards identified for the Choiseul tenement, in order of decreasing probability, are topsoil loss, land use or geomorphologic change, slope failure, earthquake, tsunami, and volcanic activity.


The Choiseul tenement is predominantly composed of two geologic rock units, namely the Siruka Ultramafics (approximately 70% of the area) and volcanic rocks (Choiseul Schists, Vosa Lavas and Vosa Schists). The ultramafic and volcanic sequences are overlain by limonite. Miocene to Recent reef-derived limestone formations are found in the eastern portion of the island towards Lokoso. Regional studies for the central islands of the country indicate the presence of major normal faults and horst-and-graben blocks that are, in turn, associated with the accretion of ultramafic rocks and the regional impacts of the bounding subduction zones in Solomon Islands.

Soil Type and Characteristics

Choiseul Island has 13 soil associations, seven of which are found in the tenement area. The underlying rock types dictate the composition and characteristics of the soils, therefore the seven soil associations are associated with the Siruka Ultramafics, Vosa Schists, Vosa Lavas, Choiseul Schists, and Kumboro (Mountain) Volcanics. In terms of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) soil taxonomy orders, the majority of these soils fall within the Inceptisols and Oxisols (lateritic soils) groups. These soils are best supporting forest or other native vegetation, with limited cropping potential. The land capability of the Choiseul tenement area falls under the USDA Classes VI and VII, which pertains to soils that are unsuitable for agriculture and are restricted to forest usage. A coastal soil association, found in saline foreshore swamps, lagoons, and estuaries that are characterised as low energy environments with organic matter accumulations, are considered as potential acid sulphate soils.


Soil profiles are generally thick and well-developed in areas with flat to gentle topographies and where erosion rates are low. Thin soil profiles are typical of areas with steep topography and high erosion rates, such that soil development is limited. The weathered characteristic of most soil groups on the island, as well as the general lack of nutrients, indicate that the soils are also highly erodible. Clays characteristic of volcanic rocks and corresponding alteration products of ultramafic rocks found in the Project site, stream deposits, and hydrothermally altered rocks are highly prone to weathering and are consequently highly erodible. Based on geo-accumulation index results from nine drill holes, geo-concentrations of chromium, nickel, iron, cadmium and cobalt are highly enriched in the area, being naturally sourced from the Siruka Ultramafics and volcanic units. Geo-accumulation values for other metals, such as aluminium and manganese, fall within the moderately polluted to practically unpolluted ranges.

Potential Impacts The following potential impacts have been identified in association with land, geology, geohazards and soils at the Project site: •

short-term change in land use for areas where temporary construction camps, waste containment areas and other temporary infrastructure will be erected

permanent land use change in areas where the mines, roads, water supply dam, and landfill will be located

temporary and permanent changes to landform or geomorphology

loss of topsoil

soil erosion and sedimentation impacting water quality and downstream habitats

contamination of groundwater and surface water, ecosystems, failure of soil structure, and corrosion of construction materials due to the release of sulphuric acid from the disturbance of acid sulphate soils

soil contamination from hydrocarbon or other spills or leaks, improper disposal of construction wastes such as wood and metal, and improper disposal of other solid and domestic wastes

slope failure and mass wasting particularly on high angle slopes

disruption of work, and health and safety hazard, due to potential ash falls during a volcanic eruption.

Disturbed land areas and slopes are progressively restored as close as possible to pre-mining conditions.

Landslide and slope failure hazards are engineered so that risk is minimised.

Take all reasonable and practicable measures to minimise short and long-term soil erosion and the adverse effects of sediment transport.

Management Objectives

Management Strategies Proposed actions for managing potential impacts to land, geology and soil hazards, and associated facilities, staging, monitoring and corrective actions, are provided in Table 5-2.


Table 5-2 Geology, Geohazards and Soil Hazard Management Strategies







Short-term or permanent change in landform



Potential Impact


Reduce short-term impacts of landform changes.

Reduce long-term impacts of landform changes.

Management Action

Progressive rehabilitation will be carried out during construction wherever possible. Temporary mine facilities will be decommissioned and dismantled after closure of a mine area. The areas where these facilities are erected will be rehabilitated in consultation with landowner. Facilities and haul roads that will be dismantled or decommissioned during mine closure process will be identified and those that communities wish to keep may be retained for that purpose. Areas where facilities will be decommissioned will be stabilised to prevent slope failure or erosion post mine closure. The detailed design of facilities and mine areas will consider dimensions, material requirements, structural integrity requirements and standards in terms of geomorphic change. Engineering measures will be implemented to restore land and slopes disturbed during operation activities in areas where no further works will be undertaken, including: • •

Loss of topsoil

Topsoil conserved and reused.

application of recommended excavation or slope gradient configuration, construction or installation of surface drainage channels or culverts to control movement of water and minimise erosion, and • the use of slope protection measures. Progressive rehabilitation will be applied as blocks are mined through topsoil conservation and regeneration/revegetation to ensure the mine area is as stable and as close to pre-mining conditions as possible. A topsoil management plan will be developed (as part of the overall Mine Rehabilitation and Closure Plan) prior to construction to ensure conservation of soil material that will be removed from facilities.


Auditing, Reporting, Corrective Action

Monitor projected use of temporary facilities to enable planning of decommissioning and rehabilitation. NA






Designs to be applied and maintained throughout the life of the Project. Monitor progress of works so that slope restoring activities may occur as soon as possible following works.


Monitor progress of rehabilitated areas in terms of plant growth and retention of topsoil. Monitor management of topsoil on-site and plant growth within rehabilitated areas.





Regular internal audits of the Mine Rehabilitation and Closure Plan and on-site topsoil management will be undertaken to inform and update procedures.


Erosion and sediment control measures applied during construction and operation stages.

● Disturbance of acid sulphate soils


Management Action


Auditing, Reporting, Corrective Action






Increased erosion and sedimentation



Potential Impact

● Minimise disturbance of acid sulphate soils during port construction.

Topsoil conservation and management strategies will address fertility and land capability concerns post-mining, including appropriate stockpile management, application of mulch to improve soil organic matter content, and grading to prevent erosion. Progressive rehabilitation will be undertaken as blocks are progressively mined, with immediate placement of topsoil from currently mined areas wherever possible in order to conserve soil properties and seed bank for vegetation regeneration. Construction will be carried out in stages to minimise the areas that will be disturbed at one time. Sediment traps to be constructed in proximity to earthworks activities. Mining will be carried out in blocks to minimise the area that will be disturbed at one time. Sediment traps to be constructed in proximity to mining areas and haul roads. Progressive rehabilitation in the form of backfilling of overburden and topsoil, and facilitation of forest regeneration and/or revegetation will be conducted as mining progresses. Prior to construction, an assessment of proposed earthworks activities and infrastructure locations will be determined to assess the volume and depth of soil that may be disturbed and the consequent risk of disturbance to acid sulphate soils. Additional soil testing within the port extents may be necessary for better understanding of the risks of disturbing acid sulphate soils and areas where avoidance or treatment may be required.

Disturbance of acid sulphate soils should be avoided where possible.

The construction sequence will aim to minimise the area that will be disturbed at one time. Earthworks activities and layout will be structured around the assessed risks of disturbing acid sulphate soils. If encountered, disturbed acid sulphate soils shall be



Monitor progress of regenerating areas in terms of plant growth and retention of topsoil.










Testing and treatment trials of on-site soils can be done prior to treating in-situ.

Results of soil tests to be used in design and placement of infrastructure, method of construction, and anticipated treatment. NA

Consider potential for avoidance of high risk areas when finalising design. NA

Monitoring of pH levels in



Where acid soils are


Management Action

immediately treated and managed to avoid impacts to receiving surface and groundwater as well as proposed infrastructure. Soils to be stockpiled that contain actual acid sulphate soils will be contained and treated. Soil contamination

Soil contamination is prevented, or minimised and contained.

A Waste Management Plan will be developed prior to construction for the handling and disposal of solid wastes, hazardous wastes, construction wastes and waste water that may be generated during the construction and operation activities. This plan is to be implemented at the commencement of the construction phase. Workplace practices will be implemented to prevent soil contamination, such as: •

Landslides in susceptible areas


Auditing, Reporting, Corrective Action

runoff and/or receiving surface water will be conducted during the construction of the port following suspected release of sulphuric acid occurs. An inspection and monitoring program will be implemented as part of the Waste Management Plan and in accordance with EMP measures. Inspections of work sites will include evidence of appropriate waste disposal practices and visual evidence of hydrocarbons spills on soil surface. Monitor leachates from landfill and waste disposal sites where appropriate.

disturbed, lime will be added to neutralise the sulphuric acid generation.



Stage Infrastructure





Potential Impact

Reduce landslide risk in susceptible areas and stabilise slopes.

regular check, repair and maintenance of vehicles and equipment for leaks • appropriate collection, storage and disposal facilities for hazardous waste, including appropriate receptacles, waste segregation, and bunding and lining of storage and disposal facilities where necessary, and • spill clean-up kits readily available (such as organic dispersants, absorbent cloth, or waste bins) to quickly contain and clean accidental spills. Slopes and mining pits will be made stable throughout the life of the Project through preventative slope remediation for the removal of overburden and unstable surfaces, engineering measures, and progressive rehabilitation of slopes. Observance of safe working slope gradients and placement of engineering measures such as batter slopes will be implemented in susceptible areas where mining will occur.

Preventative slope remediation will be undertaken by removal of overburden or unstable surfaces. Rocks or soils will be removed along their bedding planes or fractures to leave the

A schedule for internal audits and regular review of the Waste Management Plan will be developed. If oil and fuel spills are evident, investigate machine or vehicle source and contain and repair prior to further use.



Monitoring to verify design of facilities will be undertaken using inclinometers, survey monuments, piezometers for foundations, and weir/staff gauges for water supply dams, mining pits, and quarry and borrow pits. Continuously assess slopes for potentially unstable areas as mining progresses.





Management Action


Auditing, Reporting, Corrective Action



Stage Infrastructure





Potential Impact

stable unweathered surface. Rocks with conjugate fractures that cut across each other will be wholly removed to expose a stable unbroken surface. Overburden or soils deposited at steep angles or with minimal basal support will be removed to expose a relatively flat, compacted surface. The perimeter of the mine pits will be secured with physical barriers to ensure employee safety. Detailed slope stability analysis (including of mine areas) will be conducted to confirm assessments and hazard ratings assigned to the Project area from ongoing geotechnical work. Seismicity analysis will be included in engineering designs of mine areas and facilities. An Emergency Response Plan will be prepared prior to construction stage to address the responses during occurrence of natural disasters, such as volcanic eruption, and the cleanup procedures after the occurrence. This plan will include roles in disaster preparedness and response, such as training, notification, evacuation, and first aid.

Ensure exclusion zone is clearly marked on-site as work progresses. NA

NA Certification of Emergency Response Plan by Project Manager is a Hold Point for commencement of on-site project activities.


NA Results of the analyses will be integrated in the final design of Project facilities and mining methods. NA Regular internal audits of the Emergency Response Plan will be undertaken to inform and update procedures.


Water Quality and Flow The environmental values, potential impacts and risks, and mitigation measures for surface water quality and flow are summarised in this section, and further described in Chapter 4 and the Impact Assessment Report – Surface Water Quality and Flows.

Environmental Values

Surface Freshwater

The quality of freshwaters within the Choiseul Island survey area was high. Water quality parameters were generally within the applicable water quality guidelines, indicating that the streams and rivers within the survey area generally have clean and clear water. Turbidity was high in the Roke River on one occasion during monitoring, and was likely linked to the proximity of a logging road near to this water quality monitoring site. The Project site is subject to high erosion potential due to its steep terrain and intense rainfall (Golder 2012). Metals were detected in the water at all sites in varying concentrations, which are generally naturally abundant elements. Concentrations of nitrogen and nickel were observed to be high at more than half of the survey sites. The high concentration of nickel is likely due to the natural abundance of nickel in the ultramafic soils and rocks of the Project area. Significant variation in both flow velocity and volume was observed during monitoring. This variability was likely caused by the frequent heavy rain showers that occur on Choiseul Island. Water quality was primarily related to adjacent land-use (e.g. clearing for village gardens and commercial logging), human activities (e.g. waste disposal), and site-specific geology (i.e. mineralrich soils). Proximity to cleared areas is considered to be the main influence on freshwater quality on Choiseul Island. Sediment quality within the freshwater survey area was generally good; concentrations of nutrients were generally low, and concentrations of metals and non-metal inorganics were generally low at most sites. However, sediment quality was poor in parts of the Katulae River, Olenganda River, Nombe River and Siruka River, where the concentrations of several metals were high.


Depth to groundwater was measured in each of nine monitoring wells over two rounds of sampling, and was observed to be within the range of 3.81 to 10.75 m from the top of well. Based on field recorded data, the static water level (SWL) in monitoring wells MW01, MW06 and MW07 fluctuated by 3.62m, 3.55m and 2.35m respectively, while the rest of the monitoring wells have water fluctuations not greater than 0.6m. For groundwater quality, the following results have been found through in-situ testing and laboratory analysis: •

The pH values were generally within the guideline ranges of 6.5 to 8.5, which means that the pH of groundwater is within the acceptable limits for drinking water (optimal for streams and groundwater with reference to the ANZECC water quality and Australian Drinking Water Standards (ADWS) guidelines).

Concentrations of total dissolved solids (TDS) in all nine sampling locations were within the acceptable range, being rated as ‘good’ to ‘excellent’ (