Tectonic Resources NL has received conditional backing from the Environmental Protection Authority for the planned expansion of its nickel mining operation near Ravensthorpe in WA's south east. The proposal involves development of open cut pits and underground mining at its Trilogy and Kundip sites.The proposal also included associated mining infrastructure on the Trilogy and Kundip sites, the construction of a haul road through a proposed Nature Reserve, upgrade of the existing RAV 8 process plant situated 25 km east of Ravensthorpe and disposal of tailings into the existing pit at the RAV 8 site.Tectonic Resources managing director Steve Norregaard said deliberations regarding the company's ability to mine at the Trilogy and Kundip sites had been on-going with state authorities for the last 12 months. He said the company's proposal for mining in these sites would have a limited impact on the surrounding environment. EPA chairman Dr Wally Cox said the Authority considered that the proposal could be managed in an acceptable manner provided there is satisfactory implementation by the proponent of their commitments and the recommended conditions."The Department of Conservation and Land Management have advised that for the proposed environmental offset package, in terms of the values and condition of the vegetation and ease of management, the area proposed for contribution to the conservation estate is appropriate," Dr Cox said.The Kundip site is located in one of the peak areas of biodiversity in the South West of Western Australia and is centred in one of the three areas of highest endemism in Western Australia. Mining on the site will lead to the clearing of approximately 70 hectares of native vegetation and the use of another 35 hectares of already disturbed land.The Trilogy mining site will be situated on cleared farming land. The package consists of the rehabilitation of 18.91 hectares of historically disturbed areas; the purchase of 60 hectares of land with native vegetation to add to the conservation estate; $20, 000 for vegetation surveys; the contribution of funds to allow fox baiting of the entire Ravensthorpe Range for five years and the donation of seed to CALM for Seed Banking."The project area is also part of a broader area of outstanding flora and fauna conservation value on a local, regional, national and international scale," Dr Cox said."The EPA considers that the proposed Nature Reserves in the area should be added to the conservation estate and afforded protection as soon as possible. "In addition available information, coupled with further surveys should be used to determine whether the proposed conservation estate is adequate and if necessary to recommend further areas for protection."During the preparation of the Environmental Protection Statement, the proponent has undertaken consultation with government agencies and others with a direct interest in the project as well as local interest groups. Consultation was also undertaken with the local community via presentation evenings in Hopetoun and Ravensthorpe.The EPS level of assessment and the EPA's report are subject to appeal until close of business 19 January 2005.
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