Gina Rinehart’s Atlas Iron has taken a swipe at the state government’s environmental approval process over conditions for its delayed iron ore project.
Gina Rinehart’s Atlas Iron has taken a swipe at the state government’s environmental approval process over conditions for its delayed iron ore project, claiming it's threatening further mining investment.
The miner has lodged an appeal against the Environmental Protection Authority's "over-reaching and onerous" conditions to the approval of its $605 million McPhee Creek iron ore project, which the regulator waved through to Environment Minister Reece Whitby for approval last month.
The miner is seeking to appeal an “unnecessarily proscriptive” exclusionary buffer zone around bat caves within and near the 4,465-hectare development area in the Pilbara.
It is also looking to appeal certain scope three emissions it claims were being double counted as scope one emissions.
Atlas said the emissions of third-party contractors that would haul ore from McPhee to Roy Hill for processing would be counted as scope one instead of scope three.
Hancock Prospecting chief executive of projects Sanjiv Manchanda said the company urgently needed the government to address processing times for approvals of new projects and look for more opportunities to sensibly simplify and reduce burdens that risk project investment.
“The delays in assessing the McPhee project, and an appeal necessitated by over-reaching and onerous conditions, has delayed our investment, preventing the creation of jobs and economic activity in Western Australia,” he said.
“It has also delayed the payment of an expected $2 billion in tax and royalty payments to government.
“For context, $2 billion is enough to pay for the recently announced Women and Babies Hospital [$1.8 billion].”
The McPhee Creek project, north of Nullagine in the Pilbara, is tipped to produce up to 14 million tonnes per annum of ore over an expected life of 15 years.
If approved by the minister, the miner would move to clear 1,912ha of vegetation on the 4,465ha foothold to support the development of five open-cut iron ore pits.
Ore would be transported by truck to the Roy Hill project for processing, or it may be on sold as direct shipping ore, according to EPA’s report.
Mr Manchanda said the red tape was threatening further mining investment.
“Shackling industry with more uncertainty via time-consuming regulation and duplicated compliance is only damaging Australia as a predictable and reasonable place to invest,” he said.
“The government needs to do more to simplify and reduce government tape and streamline approvals if it wishes to help raise the living standards of Australians.
“The current policy environment, duplication of processes, over-reach from many departments and significant delays for approvals threatens further mining investment, revenue and consequently, living standards.”