Leaving no stone unturned to conserve the Pink-Tailed Worm-Lizard
November 05, 2015

Alkane Resources Dubbo Zirconia Project is a 2015 NSW Mining Environment Award-winning greenfields project being developed at Toongi, NSW. The Pink-tailed Worm-lizard (PTWL), a species listed as Vulnerable in the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and the commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), was discovered living on the orebody in 2001. 

Watch: Leaving No Stone Unturned to Conserve the Pink-Tailed Worm-Lizard - Alkane Resources
Thanks to Alkane Resources commitment to the endangered PTWL, in 2014 the local population was considered to be the largest in NSW, with the closest recorded populations near Gunnedah and Bathurst.
Alkane’s approach to protecting the PTWL involved an experienced and diverse ecological team, including recruiting a resident Herpetologist, who came up with the idea that tiles could be laid down to mimic the ideal habitat for the lizards, that prefer to live under rocks inside the ground.
They set out a range of different tiles in different shapes and sizes, measured soil moisture, temperature and monitored the way the micro ecosystem changed over time. As the PTWL lives inside ant burrows they were pleased to see colonies of ants congregating under the tiles, which would provide the ideal habitat in the right setting for the PTWL to begin self translocating. Further proof of success in these trials the discovery of the PTWL under two of the 120 roof tiles arrangements in tile checks over three consecutive years. 
Plans for the mine were significantly changed to take into consideration the passive self-location of the Pink Tailed Worm Lizard, to ensure it would not be disturbed or threatened in any way. Alkane redesigned the pit, so they would only mine the western half in the first 10 years, allowing significant time to move the species.
Alkane has engaged local community volunteers to help with the ongoing work required to allow the PTWL to thrive on the site. Around 20 volunteers from the Dubbo Field Naturalist & Conservation Society, have been providing ongoing help to the project, describing it as ‘amazing’.
The project was instigated and managed by Alkane’s Mike Sutherland, General Manager, NSW who is responsible for Community and Environment for the Dubbo Zirconia Project with funding by Alkane. Mike Sutherland said that it was a great example of how mining, farming and biodiversity offsets can work together successfully.
Alkane were granted approval by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) this year based on their commitment to preserving the endangered reptile, with the PAC noting the proposal would have "several significant social and economic benefits, in the form of investment and employment for the Dubbo region".

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