Wollongong Coal, Russell Vale Colliery, Underground Expansion Project
Broadleaf facilitated an integrated risk assessment for the Underground Expansion Project at the Russell Vale Colliery, a requirement for planning approval. The assessment focussed on risks that might affect the quantity of water in Cataract Reservoir, the quality of the water flowing into the Reservoir and the ecological health of upland swamps and creeks. The assessment was reviewed by an Independent Risk Assessment Panel and the regulators. Our report was presented to the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC).
Broadleaf's risk assessment report is contained in a larger report to the PAC here. Additional information about the Underground Expansion Project is provided on the PAC's web site for the project here.
On 8 December 2015, Dr Dale Cooper summarised the risk assessment process and outcomes at a PAC public hearing in Wollongong. The text of his presentation appears below.
Presentation to the PAC
My name is Dr Dale Cooper. I am a Director of Broadleaf Capital International. We were asked by Wollongong Coal to facilitate the integrated risk assessment for the Underground Expansion Project at Russell Vale Colliery. I will provide a short summary of what we did.
I have worked for over 35 years on aspects of risk management in Australia and overseas. My work has included risk assessments like the Underground Expansion Project where environmental matters were very important for the decisions that had to be made. I have also been involved in developing national and international risk management standards.
The risk assessment process used for the Underground Expansion Project is aligned with accepted national and international risk management standards. It was tailored for this work, and it was reviewed by the Independent Risk Assessment Panel and the regulators, including Water NSW.
We focussed on risks that might affect the quantity of water in Cataract Reservoir, the quality of the water flowing into the Reservoir and the ecological health of upland swamps and creeks.
Inputs to the risk assessment were provided by specialist experts in geology, hydrology and ecology, and reviewed by the Independent Panel and the regulators. The experts all provided detailed reports to support their inputs to the assessment.
The risk assessment process was an iterative one. The assessment was revised and refined as more information became available, as the experts completed their work and undertook further studies, and as feedback was received from the Independent Panel.
In the risk assessment we tried to be comprehensive. We identified a total of 138 risks, of which 30 were discarded as either not relevant or duplicated. We focussed our analysis on the remaining 108 risks.
Of these 108 risks, many were assessed as having only ‘very low’ or ‘low’ impacts. There were only two risks that were rated as ‘high’, both concerned with ecological effects on two specific upland swamps. Actions to address these risks are provided in the detailed documents prepared by Wollongong Coal.
The risk assessment concluded there was no threat to Cataract Reservoir, and no threat to Sydney’s water supply.
The Independent Risk Assessment Panel’s conclusions were clear. The panel stated:
In summary, we conducted a detailed risk assessment, using a process aligned with accepted international standards. Experts in their fields provided the inputs. The assessment process, the inputs to it, the outcomes it generated and the responses proposed by Wollongong Coal, have all been subject to extensive independent oversight and review, and the Independent Risk Assessment Panel supports the validity of the process and its outcomes.