22/01/2021 - 11:00

Environment minister to consult on WA project

22/01/2021 - 11:00

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Australian Potash has confirmed resolution of an appeal related to its Lake Wells development in the Goldfields but awaits further consultation from the environment minister.

The $208 million Lake Wells potash project sits 160 kilometres north-east of Laverton. Photo: Australian Potash

Australian Potash has confirmed resolution of an appeal related to its Lake Wells development in the Goldfields but awaits further consultation from the environment minister.

Based in Subiaco, Aust Potash is planning to develop the $208 million Lake Wells sulphate of potash (SOP) project 160 kilometres north-east of Laverton.

The project is expected to produce 150,000 tonnes of SOP per annum over a 30-year mine life.

Aust Potash referred its development to the state’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in December 2017 before submitting applications in May 2018 and July 2020 to amend its proposal.

Revisions included reducing the overall project area (currently under the Waturta native title claim) from 27,687 hectares to 13,951ha. Its development would require land clearing of up to 3,200ha.

The EPA released a report in September last year that recommended approval of the changes, but with conditions related to flora and fauna, vegetation, inland waters, and other social surroundings.

That report prompted Aboriginal artist and activist Kado Muir to lodge an appeal to the Minister for Environment, Stephen Dawson, claiming EPA’s assessment was conducted without sufficient consultation with the Waturta applicant group (which includes Mr Muir).

He also claimed there was “incomplete and inadequate” assessments of the impacts Lake Wells would have on Aboriginal heritage and that the EPA did not apply a “precautionary principal” to the project’s surroundings, and requested the EPA further assess Aust Potash’s proposal.

Mr Dawson this month dismissed the appeal, concluding the EPA had appropriately relied on multiple sources of information to inform its assessment.

He did, however, recommended the EPA revise a condition in its report that would allow an independent consultation with “appropriate knowledge-holders and stakeholders” including Mr Muir.

The minister will now begin the consultation process to assess whether the proposal can be implemented.

Aust Potash managing director Matthew Shackleton said he looked forward to the final ministerial statement.

“We have been thorough and rigorous in ensuring relevant studies and consultation has occurred throughout the approvals pathway,” he said in an ASX announcement this morning.

Aust Potash, which owns the Lake Wells development, plans to truck SOP to the Port of Geraldton for export. It has already secured offtake agreements including with German company HELM AG, US-owned Redox, and Japan’s Mitsui & Co.

Shares in Aust Potash were up 3.2 per cent at 1:20pm AEDT to trade at 16 cents.

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