One mining company’s special delivery to Tasmanian devils
Copper Mines of Tasmania (CMT) recently donated 17 tons of used conveyor belt rubber – with a market value of approximately $6,000 – to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program (STDP) for use in its Cressy captive devil breeding enclosure. The value of this ‘in kind’ donation is worth at least twice as much again, given the costs associated with transport and the logistics of delivering the rubber in the lengths required. The company’s sub-contractors, TPW and Redpath supported with forklifts and transport for delivery of the material. This effort is a fabulous demonstration of how individual companies went above and beyond the ordinary to help in the conservation of the Tasmanian devil.
The Program initially approached CMT to purchase the used conveyor belt, which is worth $3-400 per ton, to line the animal enclosures with rubber for barrier-proofing. However, CMT which has a focus on sustainable management in its own business plan, decided that the environmental benefits to the community were greater than the immediate financial benefit to the company. It offered to donate the used conveyor belt, all 17 tons of it, in several rolls with an approximate length of 660 m in total.
Acting Section Head of the Captive Management and Translocation Section, David Schaap, explained that CMT helped overcome the significant transport issues involved in delivering and handling the huge weight of rubber rolls. The rolls were cut into small lengths which could be handled manually and by forklift, avoiding the cost of expensive cranes and large trucks. CMT’s sub-contractors, TPW donated a forklift truck for a week, while Redpath provided the vehicles to transport the material. David said that CMT helped out immensely, providing the lengths of rubber specified and fulfilling all the Program’s requests.
“CMT contractors and dedicated staff cut the rubber down into two to three metre sections from lengths of over 1000 m – a painstaking task done by hand over several days,” said David.
“We used the rubber to line the base of each fence line, blocking access to gaps that had formed beneath due to soil erosion.
“The result is that the housing pens are greatly improved – decreasing the chance of devil injury or escape – for this population of healthy devils,” he said.
The Program has a number of captive breeding centres and free range enclosures keeping devils as part of an insurance population, which also includes animals held in mainland wildlife parks. The insurance population is designed to provide a source of genetically diverse devils for future conservation of the species.
This is a fundamental strategy in protecting the devil from extinction due to the Devil Facial Tumour Disease, which has decimated an estimated 80 percent of the wild population. The Program is the State and Commonwealth governments’ response to this conservation threat and a comprehensive array of strategies are being implemented. Government funding is spread across this entire range so the value of practical donations such as CMT’s cannot be underestimated. The company’s willingness to go above and beyond the Program’s expectations is admirable and it provided tremendous help in solving a practical problem – one of the many challenges faced by the Program.