Curragh is focused on reducing water use at its mine site, and through a number of initiatives it has reduced raw water consumption by 27 per cent since June 2014. As a result, in 2016 Curragh did not use 150 megalitres of Mackenzie River water, and this was made available for the agricultural sector.
The Curragh team’s original goal was to reduce raw water supplied from the Mackenzie River to the mine by five per cent per bank cubic metre (BCM) of overburden removed, within two years.
In June 2014, baseline water use was 19 litres of raw water per BCM. In just two years, water use has reduced to 14 litres, equating to a 26 per cent reduction overall using this metric.
Incremental innovations, the setting and tracking of targets, regular reporting, and increased reclaimed water use helped to deliver this result.
Key initiatives include the modification to the reclaimed water-feed system to the coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP), the introduction of blending capacity for firefighting water supply, installation of equipment to regulate distribution of reclaimed water between a retention dam and the CHPP, and ongoing efforts to remove system restrictions and increase capacity.
Educating employees about the benefits and importance of reducing water consumption also contributed to a cultural shift and change in attitude about this critical environmental issue.