25/09/2009 - 10:48

State gives nod to Sinosteel iron mine

25/09/2009 - 10:48

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The impact to an environmentally sensitive area within Sinosteel Midwest Corporation's Mid West iron ore project has been deemed minimal, as the state government today upheld the Chinese company's appeal.

The impact to an environmentally sensitive area within Sinosteel Midwest Corporation's Mid West iron ore project has been deemed minimal, as the state government today upheld the Chinese company's appeal.

Today Environment Minister Donna Faragher gave the go-ahead to the Koolanooka/Blue Hills project after the Environmental Protection Authority's recommended the Mungada East area, which forms part of the project, be classified as a category A reserve.

Sinosteel had previously said the entire project could not proceed if mining was not allowed at Mungada East.

In her assessment, Ms Faragher noted the impact from mining at Mungada East would be "relatively small in scale and short in duration as the proposal ... is to expand the existing mine by six hectares ... and to operate the mine for only two and a half years".

"The Minister was also aware that a large number of appellants raised social and economic concerns with regard to the EPA's recommendation that Mungada East not be mined," she said.

Sinosteel Midwest chief operating officer Giulio Casello today welcomed the approval.

"The Minister has provided a balanced response to all appeals and a process which will provide clear and auditable measures for us to manage our environmental responsibilities with this Project," he said.

Mr Casello added the project will now move through the final federal approvals process and the company plans to be onsite next quarter.

Sinosteel's state approvals process had similarities with another Mid West miner's application, Gindalbie Metals, which recently received final environmental approval for the $1.8 billion Karara iron ore joint venture with AnSteel.

 

Sinosteel's announcement is below:

 

Sinosteel Midwest Corporation today welcomed the Environment Minister's appeal determination for its Koolanooka/Blue Hills Direct Shipping Ore Project. Her decision progresses the Project forward, allows finalisation of environmental conditions, and moves directly to consultation with key Government Ministers and authorities to finalise approvals.

The Minister's decision follows the recent appeals process which saw 144 submissions calling for full approval of the Project. The appeals were in response to the EPA recommendations that mining in a portion of the project area, Mungada East, should not go ahead in order to preserve an already degraded, very small outlying portion of the Mungada Ridge.

Sinosteel Midwest Chief Operating Officer Giulio Casello said the Company was pleased with the Ministers determination on the grounds of appeal.

"The Minister has provided a balanced response to all appeals and a process which will provide clear and auditable measures for us to manage our environmental responsibilities with this Project," Mr Casello said.

Importantly, in her determination, the Minister acknowledged the environmental impact on the Mungada Ridge is relatively small in scale and short in duration.

She also noted that a large number of appellants in support of the Project raised social and economic concerns if the Mungada East area was not mined.

Within this context, the Minister has advised that her inclination is that mining could proceed at Mungada Ridge, and indicated that she will now consult with other relevant Ministers to obtain agreement on the final conditions for the approval of the Koolanooka/Blue Hills Project.

"We are confident this can be achieved in the next few weeks, and the Project can then move through the final Federal approvals process, enabling us to be on site in the December Quarter, 2009, to commence development and mining activities," Mr Casello said.

"We would like to extend our sincere thanks to members of the community, local business owners, industry representative bodies and local councils and government who have gone to the effort of supporting us through this process.

"This result is a strong reflection on the Mid West community and the Government's desire to see this important project and the development of the Mid West area and Oakajee go ahead in a timely and environmentally responsible manner," Mr Casello said.

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