22/06/2015 - 13:48

EPA gives tick for Rio mine extension

22/06/2015 - 13:48

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The environmental watchdog has given its nod for Rio Tinto’s proposed extension of the West Angelas iron ore project in the Pilbara.

EPA chairman Paul Vogel.

The environmental watchdog has given its nod for Rio Tinto’s proposed extension of the West Angelas iron ore project in the Pilbara.

The Environmental Protection Authority has recommended conditional approval of the iron ore miner’s proposed expansion of the project, which already contains an open-cut mine and associated infrastructure.

Rio Tinto plans to extend the project to include waste rock dumps, access roads and accommodation, which will require up to 3,233 hectares of additional land clearing, and an increase in abstraction for dewatering from 5 gigalitres per annum to 6GL/a.

EPA chairman Paul Vogel said the proposal met the watchdog’s objectives for the key environmental factors of flora and vegetation and offsets.

“The EPA’s environmental impact assessment of this proposal concluded it could meet our objectives under existing conditions, which includes a suite of monitoring and management plans designed to avoid, minimise and mitigate impacts on flora and vegetation,” Dr Vogel said.

“The EPA has also recommended an additional condition, requiring the proponent to contribute to a government established conservation offset fund to counterbalance the significant residual impacts to native vegetation in good-to-excellent condition.”

The minister for environment will make the final decision on the proposed extension.

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