Alkane confident about zirconia mine after receiving public submissions

Alkane Resources says public submissions received as part of its proposed $1 billion Dubbo Zirconia project did not contain "any major issues" that will hold up its approval by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission.

The environmental impact study for Alkane Resources’ Dubbo zirconia project in New South Wales’ Central West went on public display in mid-September and closed yesterday with 67 submissions received by the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure.

The company’s managing director, David Chalmers, said the company was working through a review process of the EIS, and hoped to receive project approval in the middle of next year.

“There have been a number of submissions from individuals, non-government organisations and government agencies,” Palmers says.

“At this stage we do not believe there are any major issues which will alter the timetable to any extent. We are working our way through and addressing each submission.”

Chalmers said the company identified the transport of reagents onto the Toongi mining site as one of the "crucial issues to manage" from an environmental/ social perspective very early on.

The company expects around 138 truck movements in and out of Dubbo each day but that figure represents the “road only option” and would be mitigated if the company can implement rail transport.

Chalmers said the trucks would largely travel on highways to Obley Road, with Alkane committing to spend $15 million upgrading Obley Road to "B-double standard", Daily Liberal reported.

"It will be the equivalent to the Newell Highway,” Chalmers said.

Chalmers said the company had published road and rail transport options on its website and was working hard to deliver a “viable, workable solution”.

According to Chalmers, other main issues were a little more standard and centred around dust control and water management.

While radiation concerns have also been flagged by some members of the local community.

However the company said radiation levels from dust and radon at the closest residential receiver to the site at Toongi was estimated to be no more than 0.03mSv per year.

“This is well below the average radiation dose received by an Australian adult and well below the international public dose standard, 1mSv per year,” a company spokesperson said.

Chalmers said issues of radioactivity were thoroughly covered in the EIS and there were “no major submissions in that area”.

The department will consider submissions and the company's responses in its assessment of the proposal and make a recommendation to the independent Planning Assessment Commission which will make the final decision on the project.

The company estimates the rare metals and rare earth mine will process one million tonnes of ore per year with first production slated for 2016.

Peak employment for the project is estimated to be around 300 to 400 workers during construction, with a permanent workforce of between 230 to 250 people.

Alkane said most employees would be sourced from the local area.

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