17/09/2008 - 22:00

Projects to test new government

17/09/2008 - 22:00

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CONTROVERSIAL resources projects in the Mid West and the Pilbara regions of the state are looming as early tests for the newly elected government's approach to environmentally-sensitive developments.

Projects to test new government

CONTROVERSIAL resources projects in the Mid West and the Pilbara regions of the state are looming as early tests for the newly elected government's approach to environmentally-sensitive developments.

Listed iron ore miner Gindalbie Metals Ltd and multinational energy company Chevron lodged public environmental review documents this week for their projects.

The Conservation Council of WA slammed Gindalbie's proposal to mine both hematite and magnetite iron ore at its $1.8 billion Karara joint venture project.

The council has also called for the entire $20 billion Gorgon liquefied natural gas project, and its existing government approvals, to be completely redrawn and resubmitted in light of Chevron's proposed expansion.

In its PER, Chevron has claimed that the environmental risks for Barrow Island, as outlined in previously approved development plans, would not be significantly increased with the proposed expansion of the project.

However, the organisation did admit that the fragile ecosystem may be affected by increased air and dust emissions as well as extra noise and vibrations stemming from the extended construction period.

Turtles and a variety of seabirds could be seriously affected by increased light and temperature emissions.

And there was the possibility of localised asphyxiation of fauna through unplanned carbon dioxide emissions caused by the increased use of geosequestration.

The delicate topic of mining in the Mid West region stems from a review conducted by the government last year which identified certain areas suitable for mining and outlined others, which contain Banded Ironstone Formation (BIF) ranges, for conservation.

The joint venture, which plans to mine both hematite and magnetite iron ore, hosts both types of area.

At the time of going to print, Colin Barnett was yet to be sworn in as premier and nominate his cabinet, including the highly contentious environment portfolio.

But the Liberal Party's Plan for Environmental Stability, which was released during the election campaign, states:

"Western Australian LNG will play a critical role as a clean fuel in helping the nations of our region to reduce their emissions.

We want WA to become the destination of choice for international LNG investment.

We will work with industry and potential investors to ensure timely decision-making and open and transparent approvals processes for new LNG projects."

Whether Mr Barnett and his environment minister see this situation as a warning signal for environmental sustainability in the region, or as an opportunity to garner more development dollars for the state, is yet to be seen.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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