Ranger Uranium Mine — Internal Environmental Performance Audits Energy Resources of Australia's Ranger mine is about 250km east of Darwin in the Northern Territory. It is surrounded by the Kakadu National Park. ERA is a member of the North Group of resource based companies. Internal Environmental Performance Auditing was used as a management tool by mine personnel at the Ranger mine in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was regarded as an ongoing management activity designed to examine and assess practices and procedures which, in the event of failure, would cause some environmental impact. The following procedure was used: Each work group supplied information on report sheets which recorded perceptions of possible environmental impacts at each work area. Each of the 250 items included on the report sheets was grouped according to the degree of risk and priority for action. Four groupings were used: I Infringement imminent/immediate action II Simple resolution/immediate action III Variable risk/prioritised action IV Low risk and high cost/no action The priority for action was calculated by taking into account: cost; potential environmental impact; potential for legislative infringement; potential for adverse affect on the company; and probability of occurrence. Remedial action was monitored on an ongoing basis. This process was regarded as having the greatest potential for minimising environmental impact on one hand and managing the project in the most cost effective manner on the other. The procedure included as many employees as possible who, through their involvement in the auditing process, became more familiar with operating environmental protection objectives. The more serious potential impacts were targeted for immediate remedial action. In 1994/95 the system evolved into a hazard reporting system accessible from all computer terminals throughout the site. Major advantages have been the definition of individual responsibility of all employees to report environmental and safety hazards site-wide and a mechanism for regular (weekly) review and update to ensure that reported hazards were being acted upon. BS7750 Environmental Audit The North Group has moved to standardise business units to one common platform of audit. This allows for consistency of performance measurement across the range of business units in the Group for the Board, shareholders and broader community. It also allows for environmental staff from anywhere within the Group to conduct audits on other sites. Environmental Risk Assessment An Environmental Risk Assessment conducted by an independent consultant provided the opportunity to focus on environmental risks of the plant. An independent expert in risk analysis and chemical processing assessed any hazards and recommended actions to reduce the risk. This assessment, carried out in 1995, assessed the site as well managed and recommended work to further reduce risk in the area of hydrocarbon management including storages, pipe integrity and bund construction and management. General The use of environmental auditing in its various forms has been a high priority for ERA. The sensitivity of mining uranium adjacent to a World Heritage area owned by Aboriginal landowners requires the company's environment performance to be at an extremely high level. The information provides assurances to the company and its staff, to the other stakeholders in the region and to statutory authorities. This is further complemented by the six-monthly Environmental Performance Review conducted by the Office of the Supervising Scientist and the Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy (Case Study 3). ERA completed mining of the first orebody at Ranger in 1994. To ensure that approvals are gained to mine additional orebodies and that support from the Aboriginal landowners continues, it is vital that the company is able to demonstrate a very high standard of environmental management. Internal and external audits, assessments and reviews all play a part in this process.