Mount Isa Mines has today released the Lead Pathways Study Air Report, concluding years of research and analysis into the pathways and potential health impacts of lead in the Mount Isa community.
In 2006, Mount Isa Mines commissioned The University of Queensland (UQ) to undertake a series of three studies to better understand the impacts of industrial and naturally occurring lead in the environment. The Land Report was released in 2009 and the Water Report was released in 2012.
The Air Report builds on the findings of the land and water studies and concluded that the potential exposure risk of children from inhalation was limited and mostly related to ingestion via hand to mouth activity.
The study reinforced the importance of Mount Isa residents taking active steps to minimise their exposure to lead and participate in regular blood lead level testing, particularly young children.
Led by UQ Associate Professor Barry Noller and Dr Jack Ng, the Air Report covered the period 2006 to 2013 and included a health risk assessment that focused on children under five years of age.
Chief Operating Officer for Glencore’s Copper Assets in Australia Mike Westerman said the studies were one of a number of inputs that Mount Isa Mines considered as part of its approach to continuous improvement of the site’s environmental performance.
“Our environmental initiatives are aligned with the Air Report’s recommendations and we are proactively supporting the Lead Alliance to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining a clean home, good personal hygiene and a nutritious diet,” he said.
“As modern regulations and accepted science has evolved, so has Mount Isa Mines.
“Since acquiring the operation in 2003, we have invested more than $500 million to improve our environmental performance.
“This has included industry-leading initiatives, particularly targeting air and water quality improvements.
“Over the past ten years Mount Isa Mines has reduced its total annual heavy metals emissions by between 60% and 96%.
“Today we manage one of the most comprehensive air quality monitoring systems of any Australian city, with each resident being within 1,200 metres of a monitoring unit.”
Mount Isa Mines operates within a Queensland Government-managed regulatory regime, with over 80 permits and authorities that include stringent reporting obligations.
“Our people and their families live locally and we call Mount Isa home, so the wellbeing of the community and the responsible operation of our mine will always be our priority,” Mr Westerman said.
“We urge residents to support the work of the Lead Alliance and be proactive about managing their exposure to lead.”
Mount Isa Mines will be implementing four new initiatives in 2017, including:
- Boosting financial support of the Lead Alliance by $100,000 to help the organisation expand their reach and increase access to health programs in the Mount Isa community.
- Providing an additional $50,000 to the Lead Alliance to develop a smartphone application aimed at driving positive behavioural changes with tips, reminders and blood lead level tracking.
- Releasing a monthly Air Quality Dashboard via the Mount Isa Mines website to provide greater transparency about the operation’s performance against key environmental indicators.
- Investing in additional targeted community health initiatives as part of the Glencore Community Program North Queensland, including those focused on Mount Isa’s Indigenous community.