8 Decision making and monitoring
Consultation and monitoring are important steps in the framework (Figure 28). It is through consultation that an acceptable level of impact can be agreed upon by the relevant parties. Once an acceptable level has been agreed on, and the decision is made to proceed with the proposed mining operation, then monitoring should be undertaken to ensure that management systems are effective in ensuring that the agreed acceptable level of impact is not exceeded, and to identify any unexpected changes in mine drainage quality, e.g. as a result of treatment system failure.
8.1 Decision-making steps
In this framework we have not established explicit ‘acceptable’ water quality criteria. Instead the framework provides a robust scientific basis for this decision to be made by relevant parties. In the first instance, mining operators can use this information for their internal decision-making processes to establish what likely treatment requirements may be needed, and what ecological attributes they may need to consider. As a next step, the information could be used during consultation between the regulator and applicant, and finally during more formal consultation processes, such as for resource consents.
In determining whether an impact at a given site is acceptable or not, consideration may also need to be given to other factors such as the presence of any iconic or endangered species, the current stream state, downstream water use, or any stream quality criteria specified in regional plans. There may also be broader social and economic considerations that determine whether the impact is acceptable or not.
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