29/10/2007 - 08:42

Super Pit expansion gets environmental approval

29/10/2007 - 08:42


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The Environmental Protection Authority has recommended approval for a major expansion of Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Pty Ltd's Super Pit mining operation.

Super Pit expansion gets environmental approval

The Environmental Protection Authority has recommended approval for a major expansion of Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Pty Ltd's Super Pit mining operation.


An EPA statement is pasted below:


EPA Bulletin 1270 - EPA recommends acceptability of Fimiston Gold Mine Operations Extension (Stage 3).

The Environmental Protection Authority has recommended environmental approval for Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Pty Ltd's Fimiston Gold Mine Operations Extension (Stage 3) and Mine Closure Planning and released its recommendations to Environment Minister David Templeman.

The proposal is to expand the Fimiston operations in Kalgoorlie by widening and deepening the Superpit by means of the Golden Pike Cutback.

The cutback would allow for the widening and deepening of the pit to 600 metres, covering a surface area of 46 hectares. Mining operations will not occur as close to Williamstown as they currently are to Boulder.

EPA Chairman, Barry Carbon, said that the four key environmental issues associated with the project, noise and vibration, dust and air quality, tailings and groundwater management and mine rehabilitation and closure could be adequately managed by a combination of the proponent's commitments, existing and proposed regulations administered by other agencies, and the EPA's recommended conditions.

KCGM has made an application to the Minister for the Environment for approval under Regulation 17 of the Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997, for a variation to the applicable standard for noise. This application, if approved, would not increase the level of noise currently emitted from KCGM's operations, but would enable KCGM to operate legally above the normal standards, whilst tightening the legal controls that prevent increases. The application is being processed simultaneously with this assessment, and will be released for public comment (Bulletin 1271) with this report.

The EPA has recommended that the proposed mining operations don't commence before approval is given under Regulation 17 of the Noise Regulations.

The Department of Environment and Conservation has advised that airblast levels from this proposal should be manageable within the Regulation's standards.

"To prevent human discomfort from blasting the EPA has recommended a condition to control vibration impacts and, as the requirements for human comfort are substantially lower than the requirements to protect against building damage, buildings should be protected," Mr Carbon said.

"There is a long term existing dust problem in Kalgoorlie and the EPA recognises that effective management of dust is essential, requiring monitoring and management responses.

"Monitors now being installed will be able to record micro particulate levels continuously and correlate these with wind directions.

"The Departments of Health and Environment and Conservation will continue to work with KCGM to produce an effective Air Quality Management plan, and ensure that the plan is updated appropriately."

The primary use of groundwater in the area is for mining and mineral processing. Both Fimiston I and II and the Kaltails tailings facility have a history of seepage with a rise in water levels over a wide area and an increase in the salinity of the groundwater.

KCGM starting seepage recovery in 1993 and a recent review of seepage recovery shows that the recovery bores are lowering the water mound around the tailings dams.

KCGM's preffered option for tailings from this proposal is to recommission the historic Kaltails tailings dam.

"With appropriate management from recommissioning seepage from the Kaltails tailings dam is unlikely to cause any further environmental impact," Mr Carbon said.

"KCGM will need to continue groundwater management and monitoring after cessation of its operations, and closure plans will need to address this."

KCGM provided a conceptual closure plan with the PER document and public submissions suggested that a bond was needed for future indemnity against any damage to property from pit wall failure and also for security and monitoring. Submissions also suggested that the financial assurance bond should be increased to reflect estimated mine closure cost.

The EPA's report, available at www.epa.wa.gov.au is subject to appeal until close of business 12 November 2007. Appeals will be considered by the Independent Appeals Convenor (9221 8711).

The final decision will be made by the Minister for the Environment.


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