Our actions and projects
Biodiversity preservation and protection
Of the thousand plant species found on the mine and industrial site, 230 are on the red lists maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) or the North Province. Koniambo Nickel has therefore carried out rehabilitation initiatives designed to regain gradually the original biodiversity in the maquis areas disturbed by its activities while protecting the threatened species and by introducing erosion control measures.
“Koniambo Nickel thus maintains protected areas in order to preserve the zones deemed most valuable from a biodiversity viewpoint.”
The company thus maintains protected areas to safeguard the most interesting areas from the point of view of biodiversity, and implements individual strategies to protect each of the micro-endemic species present on the site and on the massif, which it either animal or vegetable. Koniambo Nickel has implemented the rehabilitation of native vegetation impacted by the construction works.
Between 2014 and 2018, Koniambo Nickel carried out 57 plantation sites on the perimeter of the Mine, for a total planting of 177,560 m², that is, 17.8 ha. For this, it was necessary to manually plant nearly 100,500 plants.
Each year, the Koniambo Nickel nursery produces more than 10,000 shoots from seeds of sensitive species harvested from the Koniambo Massif which will later be replanted in the wild
Biodiversity monitoring is being carried out for the entire site to measure the impact of harmful species (deer, ants, rats, pigs, invasive plants, etc.) and the quality of ecosystems. Based on the findings, we are establishing protected areas (823 ha to date) and introducing management measures adapted to certain sensitive species, like the Araucarias or the Tahiti petrel.
In situ nursery
Protection of marine environments
Building a port on Vavouto Bay was not without its consequences on the marine environment. To limit the port’s environmental footprint and to compensate its effects, various measures were taken by Koniambo Nickel with the approval of the local communities. The dredging of the 4.5-kilometre channel providing access to the port was preceded by large-scale studies and the taking of precautionary measures.
For example, in 2008, before dredging work began, Koniambo Nickel transplanted 2,100 colonies of coral taken from the affected area. The coral was moved and propagated at two sites alongside the Duroc Passage.
Some 90 permanently supervised marine monitoring stations have been installed. These stations are used to control water quality and sedimentation, and to monitor the health of the flora (plants) and wildlife (e.g. fish, coral) in Vavouto’s lagoon environment.
In addition, 4.7 hectares of the mangrove were disturbed by the construction of the port and its access. With help from the local communities, a five-year program has been established for replanting mangrove shrubs of an area of 5 hectares, that is superior in size than the one affected by the construction of the port infrastructures and its access. This rehabilitation program will run for four years and linkup with the three pillars of sustainable development, namely compensation for a mangrove ecosystem, creation of a local company to carry out our project, and technical training of young Wahnidjane recruits by Koniambo Nickel so they can monitor and manage the mangrove rehabilitation effort.
“With help from the local communities, a five-year program has been established for replanting mangrove shrubs.”
Lastly, Koniambo Nickel has instituted a complete set of measures for surface-water management in order to limit the impact of sediment entering the lagoon.
Air quality and water quality
Koniambo Nickel has set up four air-quality monitoring stations. They are on the industrial site and in the communities around the site. They were first used to collect benchmark data prior to the plant's production start-up and the commissioning of its related infrastructures, such as the Power Station.
This monitoring is now being extended to take place directly at the source of atmospheric emissions, inside the facilities themselves, where online monitoring takes place alongside our daily stack sampling. This comprehensive monitoring network provides Koniambo Nickel with an accurate, overall view of air quality.
For several years already, Koniambo Nickel has been acquiring knowledge and experience with the waterways surrounding the Koniambo Massif. These waterways are being monitored so we can observe and evaluate changes in their flow rates throughout the year, as well as to assess their quality during heavy rain events.
Limiting erosion and maximizing the recuperation of water is a constant challenge on the Massif. A water channeling process was developed to counter the negative effects of dirty and polluted rainwater rejection in surrounding creeks, streams and lagoons.
Mine site erosion is a priority
It ranks as one of the most arduous aspects of the construction of Koniambo Nickel’s facilities: preparing for mining activity while preventing slope failures (rock slides, rock falls) and other ravages on the massif where the slopes are sometimes as steep as 27%. The earthworks began at the foot of the mountain, with the creation of sediment control structures (sedimentation ponds, embankments, riprap fills, spillways, etc.) sized to match the hydrological measurements (runoff and rainfall intensity-duration-frequency values), and adapted to sediment grain size and geotechnical data. Areas affected by the earthworks (for mine access roads and the conveyor, in particular) have been revegetated, because vegetation continues to be the best protection against erosion and dust.
Koniambo Nickel has taken special precautions to ensure the proper handling and management of the waste generated on its site during the Operations phase. Various types of waste are produced by the site’s various activities (hazardous industrial waste, non-hazardous industrial waste and inert waste), and their management must comply with the regulations and other applicable standards to ensure minimal risk to the environment and public health. Our management plan covers all our waste-related activities, including production, storage, transit, transportation, processing, recycling and elimination of waste.
Most of our waste management activity has to do with identifying and characterising waste, for which we have two main categories: hazardous waste and non-hazardous waste. Waste containers (dumpsters, bins, garbage cans, holding cells, etc.) have been set up all around the site and are clearly identified to facilitate later sorting into subcategories, one for each of the existing types of waste handling and waste eliminating pathways in New Caledonia. We are encouraging everyone to sort their waste correctly to foster potential opportunities for adding value to waste or processing it.
Mindful of the volume of waste it generates, Koniambo Nickel is doing everything it can to apply the 4Rs and minimise its waste footprint:
Reduce, at source, the volume and toxicity of the waste generated, by reviewing and improving operating practices and procedures and by making optimal use of raw materials
Reuse a product or material with little or no processing.
Recycle or reclaim manufacturing by-products: process the waste to produce an identical or different material that can be used.
Recover or collect or sort waste with a view to adding value to its component parts and materials.
Dispose of waste: that is called ultimate waste because it could not be reduced, reused or recycled or recovered. At this point, several options are conceivable: on-site impoundment and management, municipal landfills, or certified third-party waste storage facilities (classified by type of waste).
Koniambo Nickel has defined its waste collection, storage and handling procedures, which are to be followed to ensure optimal management.
Innovation at the heart of our process
Koniambo Nickel’s Metallurgical Plant uses the NST or Nickel Smelting Technology process. Developed and patented by Falconbridge Ltd., this improved technology was borne out of the collective experience of many metallurgical operations around the world.
The goal? To profit from an energy-efficient ferronickel production process with a smaller environmental footprint. As is the case with the metallurgical plants operated by Le Nickel-SLN in Doniambo, New Caledonia, and by the Société du nickel de Nouvelle-Calédonie and Corée in Gwangyang, Korea, our plant in Vavouto calcines nickel-bearing ore, liquefies the resulting metal oxide solids in an electric furnace to separate the metal from them, then refines the resulting ferronickel by eliminating its sulphur content.
Koniambo Nickel’s NST process solves a large number of problems encountered with the conventional processes. It does not need a rotary furnace to smelt metal.