Consulting engineering and environmental solutions company, SEMF, has played a crucial role in securing the go-ahead from Local, State and Commonwealth governments in the redevelopment of the King Island Scheelite (KIS) mine off the coast of Tasmania.
The mine is located adjacent the township of Grassy on the south-east coast of the island and is one of the largest scheelite deposits in the world.
The KIS mine dates back to 1917 when sheelite was a key contributor to King Island’s economy.
Poor tungsten prices led to the mine’s closure in 1990.
In May 2005, King Island Scheelite purchased the project.
As tungsten prices showed signs of recovery, KIS completed a feasibility study on redeveloping the mine.
Redevelopment will involve extending and deepening the existing open pit mine, developing a processing plant and the necessary infrastructure including the construction of a tailings dam, cut-off wall and seawall.
SEMF’s role in the preparatory part of the project was to develop approval documentation required under the Tasmanian Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 and to manage the extensive community consultation process.
Developing approval documentation required describing the existing environment, the proposed development, the potential environmental and social impact of the redevelopment as well as measures to mitigate this impact.
The community relations program involved holding regular meetings with key stakeholders, monthly updates in the local paper, informal community discussions, presentations, and the inclusion of local schools in various activities.
According to SEMF’s environmental and infrastructure group leader Dr John McCambridge, the program was crucial to obtaining the necessary approvals for the project.
“The local community now has an in-depth understanding of the project, its potential impacts and benefits, and how they can play an on-going role in its management. As a result they’re very supportive and have voiced their keenness for the construction phase of the project to get underway,” he said.
SEMF will continue to manage community liaison once the project has begun.
Since permit approval, the company has also been involved in implementing specific permit requirements such as developing baseline surveys for dust, noise and water and in preparing environmental management plans and procedures.
KIS has now entered into a joint venture with China’s Hunan Nonferrous Metals Corporation.
It is anticipated that redevelopment of the mine will be completed in just under two years.