The Groundwork

Environmental Consultants offer value beyond compliance

How to use Environmental Services for long-term savings


Environmental consultants are often engaged to undertake necessary compliance-based work. While essential, operators consider this work a regulatory check box representing a significant, persistent, and growing burden for operations.


At ATC Williams, our environmental team has diverse capabilities that are relevant beyond a compliance application. These capabilities think outside the box to provide efficiencies and savings that aid in offsetting compliance burdens.


We outline three projects below that improved business outcomes and added significant value for clients.


Project Example 1: Environmental Risk Assessment for Mine Rehabilitation


The Team

Makaela McGrath (Senior Scientist), Joel Eadie (Environmental Engineer) and Lee Rigley (Principal Engineer) supported a Queensland mine site with an application for estimated rehabilitation costs (ERC).


Featured from L-R: Makaela McGrath (Senior Scientist), Joel Eadie (Environmental Engineer), Lee Rigley (Principal Engineer)


Project Overview

An ERC is the amount of financial assurance provided to the government for any expense related to the prevention and minimisation of environmental harm or rehabilitation/restoration of the environment. Depending on the size and configuration of a mine site, the ERC can represent a significant financial liability.


Project Focus

The project comprised an assessment of site monitoring data to evaluate the risk ratings assigned to various site structures, including the tailings storage facilities and waste rock dumps. The project focused on the following:


  • A performance assessment of the capping system over the site tailings storage facility, using a review of piezometer data collected over three years to assess the potential for capillary rise and infiltration.
  • Estimating the potential for infiltration into the site waste rock dump through modelling of generic capping profiles to recommend an appropriate capping system.


These assessments gave us confidence in estimating the amount of water that could penetrate the cover systems over the tailings storage facility and waste rock dumps and the subsequent long-term potential for Acid Mine Drainage to occur.


Project Outcome

The project team demonstrated that environmental risk ratings for the relevant site structures were lower than the initial regulatory determination.

The overall project outcome significantly reduced the ERC by some $47M (or 40%) from the initial determination of the regulatory authority.


Client Benefit

The overall cost of our consulting services represented a fraction of these realised savings.




Project Example 2: Optimisation of Groundwater Monitoring Programs


Project Overview

Jeremy Haynes (Principal Hydrogeologist) conducts annual reviews of water licence requirements for mine dewatering programs and reviews the mine’s groundwater monitoring network.


Featured: Jeremy Haynes (Principal Hydrogeologist)


Project Focus

Jeremy identified an opportunity to optimise the monitoring program to improve assessment outcomes while reducing costs through the optimisation of the groundwater monitoring network.


Project Outcome

Identifying the potential for program optimisation was facilitated by recognising key geochemical indicator trends. Statistics were applied to define current site groundwater quality to make cost-effective, scientifically based, long-term monitoring decisions.


Client Benefit

The result was a reduction of future routine monitoring costs by approximately 30% over Life of Mine.



Project Example 3: Optimisation of Dam Operations and Environmental Releases


Project Overview

Nicola Logan (Principal Hydrologist) has developed yield estimates and operational strategies for several large water supply dams.


Featured: Nicola Logan (Principal Hydrologist)


Project Focus

Large water supply dams significantly impact the environment through changes to a river’s flow regime. Certain aspects of the flow regime are critical for maintaining water quality and ecosystem health. For example, low flows help to maintain water quality in river reaches and facilitate species movement between pools. As such, a dam’s operational strategy will often incorporate a range of environmental releases made throughout the year and under certain conditions.


Project Outcome

For one particular project in central Queensland, updated, relevant legislation had a possible impact on compliance. By reviewing the legislation and applying hydrological modelling, our team identified significant operational efficiencies. The dam’s environmental release strategy was refined while still achieving compliance with legislated environmental objectives.


Client Benefit

The project ultimately increased the long-term yield (i.e., saleable water) and resulted in a projected increase in revenue of $420M over the dam’s life.



Environmental services offer substantial client benefits

Producing quality outcomes that represent the best interests of our clients is a core value of ATC Williams. Consider engaging our leading environmental services to improve and optimise your business outcomes.

For more info, connect with an expert today.

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