Iluka’s product stewardship approach seeks to guide the application of mineral sands products to ensure a thorough understanding of their health, safety and environmental benefits and risks and to promote their responsible use.

Product stewardship is integrated throughout business decisions and materials management. We engage with customers to create opportunities that promote the responsible use of mineral sands products. We also support scientific research activities and participate in industry consortia such as through the Zircon Industry Association (ZIA), to facilitate productive and sustainable utilisation of products.

Iluka continuously seeks to maximise resource efficiency, reduce waste at source and increase our contribution to the circular economy. For example, in 2019 the construction of Cataby and the Ambrosia mine move project both used repurposed equipment sourced from Iluka’s demolition project, which would have otherwise gone to waste. We also seek market opportunities for a number of other products including co-products iron concentrate and activated carbon. Once viewed as a waste product, Iluka’s activated carbon is now a successful co-product of the synthetic rutile process and generates $20 million per year. By the end of 2019, Iluka produced a total of 100,000 tonnes, which is used for potable and waste water treatment; food decolourisation; and industrial applications. We continue to explore the potential recovery and marketing of by-products from the mineral sands process such as monazite from our Eneabba mineral sands recovery project. This supports maximising resource efficiency and leveraging the full life cycle of our materials throughout the value chain. We aim to continually improve our understanding of the circulatory possibilities of our products and identify where further opportunities may exist.

All of our products and co-products sold into global markets have associated Safety Data Sheets (SDS). The SDS contains product specification details, including chemical and radiological elements, and provides information on the possible hazards, safe storage, handling and disposal of those materials.

Naturally occurring radiation and mineral sands
Mineral sands, as with other mineral ores, mineral products and soils, contain natural occurring radioactive material (NORM). This is associated with low levels of naturally occurring uranium and thorium contained within the grains of the minerals we recover and return to the mine void.

While the level of NORM in most natural substances is low, any operation in which material containing radiation is extracted from the earth and processed can concentrate NORM in the mineral sands products, by-products and residue materials. For this reason, stringent, internationally-accepted radiation management standards are adopted to minimise the risk to human health and the environment.

A recent example of this is our Eneabba mineral sands recovery project, which involves the extraction, process and sale of a stockpile of historical monazite-rich material that is currently stored in a mining void at Eneabba, Western Australia. Approvals have been granted and the project is on track for commissioning during 2020. This has required the development of a viable processing methodology and the selection of a channel to market with satisfies product stewardship protocols – including the safe handling of naturally occurring radioactive material.  We aim to continually identify where further circulatory possibilities may exist for our NORM by-product streams.

We apply radiation management practices that are aligned with international best practice according to the publications of the International Commission on Radiological Protection, the International Atomic Energy Agency, as well as the relevant jurisdiction’s legislation. We identify, assess and control risks associated with NORM, radon gas and man-made sources through all phases of our activities – exploration, project development, operations, rehabilitation and closure. Our Group Radiation Management Standard and site-specific radiation management plans ensure exposure to radiation meets the prescribed statutory limits and is as low as is reasonably achievable.
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