During the period from 2006 to 2008, the TJV commissioned the mapping of vegetation covering 230,000 hectares, of which 131,000 hectares has been mapped over the Operational Area alone. The project footprint by comparison equates to 3,440 hectares.
A regional marsupial mole assessment was undertaken, along with with threatened flora species assessments in the Queen Victoria Springs, Plumridge Lakes and Neale Junction Nature Reserves; a terrestrial fauna survey within the Neal Junction Nature Reserve (which included short range endemics); and a regional feral camel survey over the southern part of the Great Victoria Desert.
Techniques such as echolocation were employed to detect bats, along with targeted observations of birds and specialised foraging techniques for reptiles and invertebrates.
Field surveys for short range endemics (invertebrates typically with a natural range of less than 10,000 square km) were undertaken and involved a 30-day trapping and foraging program, a six-phase wet pitfall trapping program over six months, a targeted survey for three species that appeared only to be located within the project footprint, and a DNA study on the conservation significant Aganippe spiders located in the project area to determine genetic diversity.
Multi-phased subterranean fauna (stygofauna and troglofauna) sampling was conducted in and adjacent to the project area. Stygofauna are groundwater dwelling fauna, while Troglofauna are communities of terrestrial animals that inhabit air chambers in underground caves or small, humid voids.
Troglofauna sampling indicated four distinct species – Chilopoda (centipedes), Diplura (bristletails), Isopoda (slaters) and Blattodea (cockroach).
One of the species (slaters) has been confirmed inside and outside of the disturbance footprint, one species was recorded only outside the footprint (cockroach), and two were only located within the footprint (bristletail and centipede).
Within the Operational Area, 11 vegetation communities and 18 sub-communities were recorded. Six vegetation communities and 36 sub-communities were identified along the 210km Pinjin infrastructure corridor, while nine vegetation communities and 21 sub-communities were identified along the 215 km Tropicana-Transline infrastructure corridor. Five vegetation communities and 13 sub-communities were identified in the Minigwal Trough water supply survey area.
The flora and vegetation surveys resulted in more than 600 flora species being identified including one Declared Rare Flora (Conospermum toddii) species and 21 priority flora species.
Results from the fauna surveys identified 230 fauna species including 21 mammals, 110 birds, 86 reptiles and one frog species. Potentially, 17 conservation significant terrestrial fauna species may occur, however, evidence of nine species have been recorded – Malleefowl, Marsupial Mole, Rainbow Bee-eater, Peregrine Falcon, Crested Bellbird, Wood Sandpiper, Fork-tailed Swift, Common Greenshank and Australian Bustard, along with four additional species (Sandhill Dunnart, Mulgara, Princess Parrot and Woma Python). Historic evidence of the presumed extent Greater Stick-nest Rat has also been recorded within the Operational Area.
Targeted surveys for threatened and cryptic fauna species indicated that the yellow and yellow-orange and dune areas provide a preferred habitat for many of the significant species. As a result of these findings, the mine infrastructure layout was modified to avoid the sand dunes outside the resource area.
Importantly, as a result of the flora surveys completed by the TJV, the Threatened Species and Communities Branch of the then DEC conducted a review of the Priority status of some of the species identified in the baseline surveys, prompting a revision of the Priority Flora list. Grevillea secunda, Olearia arida and Dicrastylis cundeeleensis were downgraded to Priority 4 status while five species were removed from the list as they were more common and widespread than previously thought.