The environmental baseline study covers geology, geography, hydrology and climate conditions as well as biological diversity, soil and vegetation characteristics of the project site. It also includes local socio-economic aspects.
The environmental and socio-economic baseline study at the Zuuvch Ovoo exploration site was completed in 2012 by Eco Trade LLC.
Badrakh Energy joined the "South Gobi Water & Mining Industry Roundtable" working group in April 2018.
This group is coordinated by the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank (IFC) and promoted by the ICMM International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM).
Its objective is to assess and propose solutions for managing the risks related to water resources in the area where mining activities are conducted in the Gobi Desert.
The working group meets four times a year to pool knowledge relating to the usage of water by mining companies, to share best practices in water management, and to understand the expectations of the local government authorities and population. Its approach is also focused on providing the local population and authorities with training and communicating with them. Local authorities are directly engaged in discussions.
Advanced exploration began in 2011 for Zuuvch Ovoo. This involves detailed delineation of the mineralization in order to measure the quantity, grade, and geometry of the uranium ore bodies, as well as hydro geological studies and geological environment. Water is a vital natural resource. Understanding where it is and how it moves under the ground is essential in protecting this resource. By using geological maps and taking samples of underground and surface water for analysis, hydrogeologists are building a detailed picture of how water flows underground.
In March 2016, the Professional Council of the Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism approved the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) of the Zuuvch Ovoo pilot project.
Four phases of the study:
The assessment covered the studies of radiation, chemicals, residues, soil, air, fauna and flora, noise, surface and ground water quality, hydrology, public health and socio-economic conditions.
Environmental monitoring is maintained and reinforced from construction to operation, and an environment management system is applied on site. Mechanisms are set to systematically monitor the food chain, soil, water and air surrounding sites, particularly in areas that are near to those in which people live, work and travel.
During the development of the project, the eventual closure of the mine is anticipated and integrated into the planning as early as the exploration stage.
Pilot drilling uses clay and biodegradable components to prevent the borehole from collapsing. The used mud is stored afterwards in dedicated ponds entirely closed and constantly monitored to ensure that the impact on the environment is minimized.
The remediation work is inspected and validated by company’s environment protection team before the official environmental inspection and delivery of conformity certifications.
The ground is levelled in such a way as to make the landscape similar to its original state. This work also involves making sure that vegetation is able to grow again.
The Zuuvch Ovoo pilot well field of 3 ha will be brought back as closely as possible to its initial state with the re-filling of its wells, the removal of piping and cables and landscape re-shaping. The industrial facilities will be secured, the equipment dismantled, the buildings pulled down and the industrial zone territory planted with vegetation. The monitoring program will continue after the remediation works.
Every year Badrakh Energy submits its environmental monitoring plans and the remediation work carried out systematically on completion of exploration activities to the Ministry of the Environment and Tourism. These action plans are audited by local authorities and then by the regional environmental protection department before the Annual Environmental Monitoring Report is submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
In 2017, Badrakh Energy obtained the best score for objectives fulfillment among mining companies (87% vs 70% average). This score was given by the Dornogobi Region Commission.
As part of the preparation of the Zuuvch Ovoo ISR pilot site, the detailed environmental impact study determined that a number of saxaouls situated in the pilot area would be impacted. The Orano Mining subsidiary in Mongolia, Badrakh Energy, opted for unique compensation.
Upstream of the project, the majority of the facilities will be built outside the high density saxaoul zones and Badrakh Energy will ensure strict management of the tracks.
The company has proposed replanting saxaouls on a surface equivalent to that affected by the pilot. The compensation measure will be carried out in an area close to the pilot and compatible with the sustainable recovery of the trees, in a location chosen in agreement with the stakeholders and respecting local traditions. Thus, in order to create a positive societal and environmental dynamic, stakeholders will be involved and the work will be carried out by local companies and professionals specialising in the replanting of trees in arid regions.
Drilling mud consists of clay and biodegradable components such as bentonite and polymer. This mud is injected during drilling to prevent the borehole from collapsing. It is stored according to need in a mud tank near the drill rigs. Once the drilling is finalized, the remediation will be performed following the below steps. The quality of remediation works gives to us the possibility to minimize as reasonably possible the impact on the environment.
The remediation of the borehole surrounding is done as per the following steps:
The environment officer officially receives the implementation of the remediation works in accordance with the form containing the following information for each borehole:
Once this information is registered on the environment electronic database, we consider the remediation works are completed.