Sustainable mining: Assessing effects and ongoing monitoring for Francis Mining

At a glance...

The client

Francis Mining operates mines on the West Coast of New Zealand.

The challenge

They must maintain high environmental compliance standards for new and existing mines in a challenging region of NZ.

The outcome

Workable resource consent conditions for new mines and ongoing monitoring that maintains their high standards and credibility.


The coal mining industry on the West Coast of New Zealand is a significant source of jobs and revenue for the region. Mining can have effects on the environment that pose complex challenges. Throughout our long relationship helping Francis Mining to operate in an environmentally and socially-responsible manner, we have been asked to assist with consenting new mines and monitoring existing ones.

The ask

Francis Mining operates mines on the West Coast of New Zealand producing coal and high-quality coking coal, which is used in steel and silicone metal production. As part of New Zealand Coal and Carbon Ltd. (NZCC), environmental protection and responsible operations is a top priority.

“It’s critical to Francis Mining that they maintain high levels of environmental compliance across their operations. They want the scientific credibility and the social license to continue supplying not just coal, but important revenue streams for NZ’s West Coast population too.

Let’s be blunt, mining has a significant environmental footprint, and managing that can be really challenging. Working with us helps the company meet the high standards of environmental protection expected from mining operations in sensitive environments.”

Francis Mining came to us a few years back to help them open a new coal mine.

Since that successful project, we have undertaken long-term environmental monitoring work for them as well as additional resource consent applications for new mines.

Why us?

“Mining is challenging in any environment, but mining in a region that is as steep and wet as the West Coast of New Zealand presents quite unique challenges, particularly in terms of managing mine effects. There are different types of effects that you’ll find in different areas specific to mining activity. So that’s where our expertise and experience of mining in this region really came in.

The terrestrial and aquatic ecology there is pretty unique. We’ve also worked with mines overseas. So our specialist experience in the area, as well as our ability to reconcile the needs of our client and their community, with the local environment, is a key reason that we were, and continue to be, engaged.”

Our solution

Robust and technically accurate Assessments of Environmental Effects are required to support complex mine resource consent applications in sensitive environments.

“When conducting an Assessments of Effects, we assess water quality and instream and riparian habitats. We survey benthic organisms (those living along stream beds), vertebrates and invertebrates. By identifying what lives in the aquatic and terrestrial habitats around the proposed mine, we can assess what kinds of impacts construction and operation would have.

The terrain on the West Coast of New Zealand is unique and challenging. The habitat is home to specially adapted wildlife with specific requirements, so that first AEE required a real blend of specialist knowledge and mining expertise which our team had. It was successful, and we were engaged on a longer-term basis to carry out compliance monitoring for the mine.”

With a number of mines now in operation, we carry out ongoing compliance monitoring for Francis Mining.

“As part of our monitoring activities, we keep track of the mining effects on water quality, stream habitat, and terrestrial ecology. This includes the surrounding vegetation, bird life, and invertebrates. This regular monitoring allows Francis Mining to continuously adjust and maintain the smallest possible environmental footprint and retain its consent.”


The results

“Our work enables the mine to continue operations with minimal environmental impacts in a sensitive environment. 

With our help, Francis Mining has been able to secure workable resource consent conditions, and earn the scientific credibility with communities and stakeholders that know the work can be trusted.

They are able to operate with social license, and local communities can be confident in their dedication to protecting the environment.”

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