13/04/2006 - 14:58

Strict environmental conditions imposed on Worsley go-ahead

13/04/2006 - 14:58

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

Environment Minister Mark McGowan has given the go-ahead for Worsley Alumina's plans to expand its Collie refinery but must still make a decision on Alcoa's contentious plans to expand its Wagerup alumina refinery.

Strict environmental conditions imposed on Worsley go-ahead

Environment Minister Mark McGowan has given the go-ahead for Worsley Alumina's plans to expand its Collie refinery but must still make a decision on Alcoa's contentious plans to expand its Wagerup alumina refinery.

The approval for the Worsely refinery expansion and associated mining operations is subject to a comprehensive package of environmental conditions.

Mr McGowan said he had made the decision after carefully assessing the Environmental Protection Authority's report and the recommendation by the Appeals Convenor.

"Five appeals were received in relation to the EPA's report, which focussed on the impacts of expanded mining on areas of jarrah forest and air emissions from the refinery," he said.

"These concerns have led me to impose strict environmental conditions on the project, which will see the areas of highest environmental value exempt from mining.

"It will also result in a range of detailed biodiversity investigations being undertaken before further areas of mining are approved."

The Minister said the $900million upgrade of the refinery would see production grow by about one million tonnes of alumina per year.

"Up to 1,000 jobs will be created during the construction phase of the project along with an additional 70 permanent operational jobs," he said.

"While the economic benefits of the upgrade will be very positive for the region, it was important to ensure the environment did not suffer as a result.

"The conditions to be applied to the project will see a careful and staged approach to minimising impacts on forest areas and require a comprehensive approach to rehabilitation.

"These relate to the further assessment and management of the impacts of mining on areas of State Forest and other vegetation, post-mining rehabilitation, air quality management, water supply protection and greenhouse gas emissions."

Mr McGowan also acknowledged the overall package of biodiversity offsets to be put in place by Worsley.

"Worsley have agreed to set aside conservation areas equal in size to the areas of State Forest which will be impacted by the mining," he said.

"They have also agreed to make a substantial contribution to catchment and landscape enhancement within the region and further contributions to jarrah forest conservation and management.

"This is on top of existing programs which have seen Worsley agree to relinquish in the vicinity of 20,000ha of land for conservation and contributions to jarrah forest research and management.

"Coupled with the strict requirements to be applied to mining within forest areas, these additional offsets represent a very positive contribution to conservation outcomes in the region."

In terms of air emissions from the expanded refinery, the EPA reported that the health risk assessment undertaken for the expansion concluded that emissions were very unlikely to cause direct acute or chronic health effects on the surrounding population.

"Taking into account the advice of the EPA on this matter, and the processes of independent review of the health related aspects, along with the implementation of best practice emissions management technology, I am satisfied that air quality impacts from the upgrade will be adequately managed," Mr McGowan said.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options