EPA clears the way for Fortescue mine expansion

Image: Fortescue Metals Group.

Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group has received environmental approval to extend operations at the Solomon mine in the Pilbara region by at least another 35 years.

Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) said it would recommend Fortescue’s application to expand the mine, which is in the Hamersley Ranges about 1500 kilometres north of Perth.

“The proposal includes new mining areas in the Castle Valley and Fredericks deposits and mining infrastructure such as processing plants and bore fields and the operation of the existing Hamersley Rail line,” the EPA stated.

The Authority has recommended 19 conditions, including measures to manage flora and vegetation species, terrestrial fauna and ground-water drawdown for water supply purposes, and a condition to prevent contamination of groundwater and surface water.

Fortescue’s expansion will require clearing 12,146 hectares in addition to the 6,313 hectares already cleared for the existing operations. Solomon consists of two mines, Firetail and Kings, which together have an annual production capacity of more than 70 million tonnes, according to Fortescue.

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