At the end of 2009, the Group had a total land holding of 5,500 square kilometres. The majority of the area was land held under title for exploration activities. Nineteen square kilometres of this land has been disturbed for mining and processing related activities.
An understanding of the potential for our company to impact upon habitats is critical in order to manage and minimise impacts. Furthermore, there can be opportunities to contribute to the conservation of species and ecosystems. The OZ Minerals Biodiversity Management Standard requires the management of biodiversity and minimisation of adverse impacts on flora and fauna throughout the mine life cycle.
At Prominent Hill, our rehabilitation plan will be updated during 2010 in accordance with the Significant Environmental Benefit (SEB) offset area agreement and the Mining and Rehabilitation Program (MARP) to ensure government criteria are met. Land disturbed in 2009 is still being used for mining and processing and for future resource investigation, therefore limiting the land available for rehabilitation.
The SEB offset area involves the ongoing protection and management of 11,000ha of land within the Mount Eba Pastoral Lease. Through management of the SEB offset area. OZ Minerals aims to protect and enhance habitat and control threatening processes for the chestnut-breasted whiteface and thick-billed grasswren (eastern subspecies). After being first identified in 2006, Prominent Hill has continued to record these species in surveys. Monitoring is undertaken biannually to check the populations and sightings of these species are documented for spring and autumn each year. There are no existing reserves or parks that protect these two threatened bird species present in the area. The SEB offset area will also protect a portion of Breakaway habitat.
The reporting period yielded the largest rainfall for the Prominent Hill region in the last 10 years, leading to considerable increases in flora and fauna in the area.
The Okvau Exploration Project in Cambodia is located within the outer boundaries of the Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary. A definition of development conditions within the sanctuary is yet to be established and at this stage the project area is suggested as a Conservation Use Zone. Exploration areas previously held by OZ Minerals, which extended into the proposed Core Zone areas, were voluntarily relinquished by the company during 2009 in support of preserving the core zone of the sanctuary. Activities that are proposed to be undertaken in close proximity to biodiversity-rich habitats will only occur following the identification of risks to biodiversity and the implementation of appropriate measures to manage potential impacts.
Over the last four years, unlicensed artisanal miners have been active in the Okvau exploration area, along with illegal poachers and loggers. A campaign by local authorities to halt all illegal activities in the area has seen a significant decrease in these activities, including a discontinuation of illegal mining.