Mineral Resources dims artificial light use at Onslow iron

To minimise, monitor and manage artificial light spill and its potential environmental impacts, Mineral Resources prepared an Artificial Light Management Plan.
To minimise, monitor and manage artificial light spill and its potential environmental impacts, Mineral Resources prepared an Artificial Light Management Plan.

Mineral Resources (ASX: MIN) is taking steps to minimise impacts on marine fauna at its Onslow iron project in the West Pilbara, WA.

While appropriate lighting is important for working safely at night, artificial light can sometimes disrupt the natural behaviours and activity patterns of native fauna – potentially leading to adverse impacts.

For marine turtles in particular, artificial light can cause disorientation among hatchlings.

To minimise, monitor and manage artificial light spill and its potential environmental impacts, Mineral Resources prepared an Artificial Light Management Plan (ALMP).

The plan includes regular monitoring of turtle and shorebird populations, as well as monitoring programs to identify light spill levels and associated triggers for additional management measures, such as adjusted light intensity and wavelength on transhippers or landside operations.

Mineral Resources principal biodiversity Dr Adam Cross says engineering and management solutions that minimise skyglow from the port and anchorages have also been made to minimise impacts of artificial light spill.

“Australia’s marine and near-shore ecosystems are celebrated around the world for their biodiversity and natural beauty. When operating in these areas, we must protect and preserve the iconic wildlife they support,” he said.

“As part of Onslow iron, transhippers will navigate waters between islands that are important breeding grounds for several species of marine turtles and home to various species of whales, dugong, dolphins and other marine species.

“We’re making sure MinRes and our contractors have proper controls in place to protect native fauna from artificial light disturbance – it’s a shared responsibility.”

Outcomes from the ALMP will be monitored bi-annually through light level checks at major islands in the region and through photograph and drone image monitoring of seasonal turtle hatching patterns. Onslow iron already has a unique transhipping solution that transports iron ore from the Port of Ashburton to bulk carriers anchored 40km offshore.

The vessels feature a shallow 7m draft when fully loaded with 20,000t, avoiding the need for a deep-water port and significantly reducing the project’s environmental footprint.

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