23/03/2015 - 12:15

EPA gives nod for Sinosteel's Mungada exploration

23/03/2015 - 12:15

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The Environmental Protection Authority has recommended strict conditional approval of Sinosteel Midwest Corporation’s proposal for exploration drilling at its Blue Hills Mungada East hematite project.

Sinosteel's Blue Hills Mungada mine.

The Environmental Protection Authority has recommended strict conditional approval of Sinosteel Midwest Corporation’s proposal for exploration drilling at its Blue Hills Mungada East hematite project.

The proposal involves the clearing of existing and new access tracks and the levelling of drill pads for exploration in the area, which is located on the Mungada Ridge in the Blue Hills, about 70 kilometres east of Koolanooka.

The size of the proposed cleared area is less than one hectare and falls within the same area as another proposal Sinosteel put forward for mining, which the EPA determined was environmentally unacceptable in November last year.

EPA chairman Paul Vogel said the proposal had been considered as a separate matter.

“While the two proposals are in the same area, the exploration drilling proposal has been evaluated on its own merits and raises far fewer factors and impacts for consideration,” Dr Vogel said.

“This proposal is not of the same scale – magnitude or duration – nor does it present the same potential impacts on landforms that have been identified as part of Sinosteel’s other proposal for mining.”

There will be no widening of existing tracks and the site and new tracks for resource definition will be up to 2.5 metres wide, with up to 16 drill pads to measure up to 20 metres in length and 15 metres wide.

The EPA has recommended the preparation and implementation of a plan to ensure cleared and disturbed areas are rehabilitated.

The EPA’s recommendation on the original mining proposal is still in the environment minister’s appeals process.

Under the original proposal, Sinosteel was seeking permission to expand its 1.5 million tonnes per annum Blue Hills Mungada East project to extend the mine life by three years.

However, the EPA rejected the appeal on the grounds that about 53.5ha of native vegetation on and around the Mungada Ridge would be disturbed if the mine was expanded.

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