10/05/2010 - 15:23

Rio Tinto closer to another Pilbara port

10/05/2010 - 15:23

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Rio Tinto has moved a step closer to developing a second port at Cape Lambert in the Pilbara after receiving a conditional recommendation from the Environmental Protection Authority.

Rio Tinto has moved a step closer to developing a second port at Cape Lambert in the Pilbara after receiving a conditional recommendation from the Environmental Protection Authority.

The port proposal, submitted by Rio Tinto subsidiary Pilbara Iron Pty Ltd, is for the construction of a port that can export up to 130 million tonnes of ore each year.

Rio Tinto already operates a port at Cape Lambert that exports iron ore from its Pilbara operations. The proposed second Cape Lambert port, along with an existing port in Dampier, will help Rio Tinto achieve its iron ore expansion plans.

EPA chairman Paul Vogel said that the port was unlikely to compromise environmental objectives, provided that several recommendations were properly implemented.

"The establishment of a buffer zone and conservation area between Cape Lambert and the town of Point Samson would both buffer the township from industrial noise and dust emissions and protect over 40 hectares of habitat for a lizard with a restricted range," Dr Vogel said.

"This area is currently a Ministerial Reserve vested in the Minister for State Development for industrial purposes and is zoned for Strategic Industry under the Shire of Roebourne Town Planning Scheme Number 8.

"The Shire, the proponent, and the Department of State Development have informed the EPA that they agree the majority of the area should be re-designated to provide a landscape buffer.

"The proposal would result in light spill over the ocean and at the adjacent flatback turtle rookeries at Bell's Beach and Cooling Water Beach.

"The proponent has committed to minimise light emissions through initial site design and the ongoing monitoring of light spill and turtle behaviour to identify areas where adjustments to lighting design are required.

"Noise emissions from pile driving can cause death or injury and influence the behaviour and communications of marine vertebrates. Mitigation measures are recommended as are monitoring and reactive management measures for the possible impacts of dredging.

"Introduced marine pest species have the potential to cause significant and widespread impacts to natural marine communities and to commercial fisheries and aquaculture in the Cape Lambert area.

"This will be addressed through inspection and clearance procedures for construction vessels and equipment, the proponent's commitment to undertake regular marine pest monitoring and international efforts to minimise the risk of pest species introductions through the discharge of ballast water."

The recommendation is subject to a two week public appeals period.

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