17/08/2015 - 12:31

EPA approves iron ore projects

17/08/2015 - 12:31

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A new iron ore mine proposed by BHP Billiton, and revisions to conditions placed on Rio Tinto’s Marandoo iron ore project near Tom Price, have been recommended for approval by the environmental watchdog.

A new iron ore mine proposed by BHP Billiton, and revisions to conditions placed on Rio Tinto’s Marandoo iron ore project near Tom Price, have been recommended for approval by the environmental watchdog.

The Environmental Protection Authority has given its tick of approval to BHP, which plans to develop and operate the Orebody 32 above watertable iron ore mine, located near the company’s existing Eastern Ridge hub, north of Newman.

The project includes open pits and infrastructure, including storage areas and a haul road, with iron ore mined to be transported to BHP’s already approved Orebody 24 and 25 mines, located nearby.

EPA chairman Paul Vogel said the watchdog took a number of BHP’s efforts to avoid, minimise and rehabilitate environmental impacts into account.

“This has included using existing stockpiles and infrastructure at their adjacent mines, rehabilitating disturbed areas when they are no longer needed and providing a buffer of 50 metres along the Homestead Creek to avoid impacts to fringing vegetation,” Dr Vogel said.

The EPA has recommended seven conditions on the proposal, including measures to address rehabilitation and mine decommissioning.

Meanwhile, the EPA has also recommended Rio Tinto’s proposal to revise conditions already placed on its Marandoo project, which comprises an open-cut iron ore mine, associated infrastructure and parts of the Central Pilbara railway.

The mining component of the project was confined to the Marandoo mine lease, which was excised from Karijini National Park in 1991 and is bounded by the park on three sides.

Dr Vogel said the proposed revisions would better define development envelopes within the project area, provide for the clearing of an extra 400 hectares of native vegetation within the envelope, and consolidate existing ministerial statements which outlined project conditions - from three statements into one.

“Various conditions were outlined across three separate ministerial statements and a lot of work has been undertaken to examine these, eliminating duplication and consolidating conditions into a single ministerial statement,” he said.

“The proposed revisions were also investigated fully to maintain adequate protection of the environment, with particular attention to the loss of 383ha of native vegetation in ‘good to excellent’ condition, and also to weed control measures.”

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