The Ravensthorpe Nickel Project in Western Australia lies within the buffer zone of the Fitzgerald River Biosphere, a world-renowned biodiversity area. The Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) manages both the national park and the biosphere. One of the allowable activities within the buffer zone of a biosphere is mining, subject to responsible environmental management.
The project’s ore deposits are located in areas covered by remnant vegetation. The clearing of this vegetation has two main impacts on biodiversity: loss of habitat for fauna and, to a lesser extent, direct fauna impact from road traffic. The loss of fauna habitat has been compensated through the purchase of an adjacent 650-hectare ‘bush block’ as a conservation offset, together with the revegetation of approximately 600 hectares of existing cleared farmland. At the completion of these revegetation activities and subsequent mine rehabilitation, the width of the Bandalup Corridor will actually be increased.
During the feasibility study, detailed ecological survey work identified over 700 individual flora species, a number of which are endemic to the project leases and in some cases have been identified for the first time. The project team has focused on locating as much infrastructure as practicable on adjacent historically cleared land. Where clearing is unavoidable, progressive rehabilitation including backfilling of mined areas has been included. Additionally, four mining exclusion zones have been established to preserve restricted species. Results from large-scale rehabilitation trials, translocation trials for priority species, genetic studies and seed propagation studies led to the development of rehabilitation and priority species management plans.