04/06/2009 - 00:00

Sinosteel rocked by EPA ruling on iron ore

04/06/2009 - 00:00

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THE Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has put further pressure on the development of new mines in the Mid West by opposing a key part of Sinosteel Midwest Corporation's proposed iron ore project.

THE Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has put further pressure on the development of new mines in the Mid West by opposing a key part of Sinosteel Midwest Corporation's proposed iron ore project.

The EPA's announcement this week reinforced an earlier recommendation to block one part of Gindalbie Metal's Karara mine proposal.

In both cases the authority has recommended that a site known as Mungada Ridge should be a nature reserve, leaving Sinosteel and Gindalbie Metals to reconsider important parts of their projects.

"Development of any kind on the Mungada Ridge is not supported as the EPA considers that the whole of the Mungada Ridge should be reserved in its entirety in an A Class Nature Reserve," EPA chairman Paul Vogel said in a statement.

As with Karara, the EPA has recommended that most aspects of Midwest's iron ore project should proceed, subject to meeting environmental conditions.

However Sinosteel said the Mungada East mine was integral to its overall project proceeding economically.

"The EPA decision to not recommend approval for a part of the project makes it impossible for Sinosteel Midwest to progress the project economically," chief operating officer Giulio Casello said.

"We are at a major crossroad, not only for this project but also I believe for the development of the Mid West as a major iron ore province."

Sinosteel's Koolanooka/-Blue Hills project consists of three mine sites, all formerly mined by Western Mining in the 1960s.

Koolanooka is based about 190 kilometres east of Geraldton with Blue Hills (Mungada East and Mungada West) a further 70 kilometres east.

EPA wants to protect Mungada Ridge because of banded ironstone formations located in the area that have significant regional conservation values.

"The Blue Hills area and other banded ironstone formations ... contain a variety of rare and endemic species and communities," Mr Vogel said.

Sinosteel Midwest encouraged stakeholders to take advantage of the public appeal period.

"We encourage all stakeholders to review the recommendations in the report and formally express their views prior to the end of the appeal period," Mr Casello said.

"We are eager to progress through this final stage in a timely manner."

If they do appeal, it would mirror Gindalbie Metal's decision to appeal against some of the conditions recommended by the environmental watchdog over its $1.8 billion Karara iron ore joint venture with AnSteel.

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