The state’s environmental umpire has given its conditional approval to Fortescue Metals Group’s plans to expand its Cloudbreak iron ore mine in the Pilbara.
Fortescue plans to increase its open pit strip mining footprint at Cloudbreak by 8,133 hectares to increase production to 50 million tonnes per annum.
Environmental Protection Authority chairman Paul Vogel said a rigorous set of conditions were attached to its recommendation to protect vegetation, native animals, surface water flows and groundwater quality.
Dr Vogel said several ecologically important vegetation communities in the area, including the Samphire vegetation associated with the Fortescue Marsh, would be impacted.
“While the percentage impacts to the Mulga and Samphire vegetation are relatively small, these areas are important due to their good condition, for the habitat they provide for fauna and because part of the proposal falls within a proposed conservation reserve. For that reason the EPA has recommended offsets are appropriate,” Dr Vogel said.
Dr Vogel said residual impacts should be offset by Fortescue contributing to a regional conservation initiative in the Pilbara, which ensure protection of a broader range of species, including the night parrot and the greater bilby.