EPA recommends new BHP iron ore pit

BHP are carrying on their relentless drive for investment in a depressed iron ore market, with development of a new open pit near Newman.

The project known as Orebody 32 Above Water Table has received recommendation for approval from the Environmental Protection Authority.

The project will be a conventional open pit operation including infrastructure such as storage and haul roads, but will not require new processing facilities.

The project is located 10km from Newman, close to the already approved Orebody 24 and 25 mines.

EPA chairman Paul Vogel said BHP has made efforts to minimise and rehabilitate environmental impacts associated with the project.

“This has included using existing stockpiles and infrastructure at its adjacent mines, rehabilitating disturbed areas when they are no longer needed and providing a buffer of 50 m along the Homestead Creek to avoid impacts to fringing vegetation,” he said.

EPA condition recommendations include systems for rehabilitation and decommissioning of the mine.

Approvals will now be open to public appreal,  and then go to the minister of Environment for final approval.

The EPA have also recommended a revisal of conditions for the Rio Tinto operated Marandoo project, in order to better define development envelopes within the area.

Revised conditions will also include clearing of 400ha of native vegetation within the mine and plant area, and consolidate three ministerial statements outlining project conditions into a single statement.

“The existing Marandoo iron-ore project involves openpit mining of iron-ore deposits above and below the groundwater table,” Vogel said.

“Various conditions were outlined across three separate Ministerial statements and a lot of work has been undertaken to examine these, eliminating duplication and consolidating conditions into a single Ministerial statement.

“The proposed revisions were also investigated fully to maintain adequate protection of the environment, with particular attention to the loss of 383 ha of native vegetation in ‘good to excellent’ condition, and also to weed control measures.”

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