World-first research into the Black-throated finch has found populations of the bird are thriving at Bravus Mining and Resources’ Carmichael mine.
The Black-throated Finch is a small native bird known for a distinctive black mark beneath its beak. The finch is found in the Townsville region and in the Brigalow Belt and Desert Uplands bioregions however finch is also found near Bravus Mining and Resources’ Carmichael mine.
Bravus Mining and Resources has used the latest findings from three years of expert on-the-ground science to update its Black-throated Finch Management Plan, which is one of many State and Commonwealth regulatory documents that form the operation’s rigorous environmental approvals.
Carmichael has some of the strictest environmental conditions ever imposed on a mining project in Australia. And as part of the comprehensive State and Commonwealth approvals processes for the mine, Bravus developed a targeted Management Plan to monitor, understand, and ultimately protect the population of local Black-throated Finches and their habitat.
The number of habitat condition monitoring sites has more than doubled to 40 under the revised Management Plan, and the research ecologists will add motion-sensing cameras at water troughs and at small water bodies to the cutting-edge bioacoustics and automated radio telemetry tech already in use.
Bravus Mining and Resources Chief Operating Officer Mick Crowe said the data collected to date from 449 individual birds fitted with a radio transmitter or uniquely identifiable coloured band showed the populations of finches local to the mine were doing well.
“The Carmichael mine has some of the strictest environmental conditions of any resources project in Australia’s history,” Mr Crowe said.
“As part of those conditions we developed a targeted Management Plan to protect local Black-throated finches and their habitat, and the research we’ve done over many years now shows those plans are working and the finches are thriving.”
The time researchers spend watching water sources have also been amended to 9 am-midday after results showed that was when the vast majority of birds were coming to drink. The team will now use the earlier hours of the day – when the birds are foraging for grass seed – to gather extra behavioural data that is used to inform land management activities.
That Plan was based on seven years of expert ecological studies and includes both practical actions such as weed management, fire management, grazing management and enhancing water source locations as well as a five-year-long research component led by world experts.
The updates to the Management Plan were made in consultation with the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, and with feedback from the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team.
Mr Crowe explained, “Importantly, the work we’re doing is also unlocking new scientific understanding about the species that the Queensland Government and others can use to improve management of finch populations elsewhere in the State.
“One example is that cultural fire burning practices, which we conduct in partnership with First Nations business Woongal Environmental Services, improve finch habitat by encouraging the regeneration of important finch food species,”said Mr Crowe
“As we better understand the ecology of this fascinating native bird, it’s only appropriate that we use that knowledge to update the Management Plan to ensure it continues to be the world’s best practice, and that’s what we’ve done here.
“Queenslanders can be confident we are mining in a way that is responsible and protects the environment so we can continue to create local jobs and business opportunities for generations.”
In all, the amendments build on the thousands of hours Bravus Mining and Resources has spent monitoring the species within the non-mined areas of the company’s leases and 33,000-hectare conservation area over a total of 12 years.