FMG given approval for Cloudbreak expansion

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Fortescue Metals Group has been given conditional approval to go ahead with its $247 million expansion of the Cloudbreak mine in the Pilbara.

The project will include the development of new pits, waste dumps, and an upgrade of the ore processing facility.

The expansions are expected to increase the mine’s production to 50 million tonnes per annum.

In approving the expansion Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority imposed a number of conditions on FMG.

The conditions were primarily focused on minimising the mine’s impact on groundwater in the environmentally sensitive Fortescue Marsh.

EPA chairman Paul Vogel said protection of the ecologically important Mulga and Samphire vegetation was also considered.

"While the percentage impacts to the Mulga and Samphire vegetation are relatively small, these areas are important due to their good condition, for the habitat they provide for fauna and because part of the proposal falls within a proposed conservation reserve," he said.

Vogel said the EPA had recommended FMG make environmental offsets by contributing to a conservation initiative to protect the Night Parrot and Greater Bilby.

The Cloudbreak expansion forms an important part of FMG’s plans to export 155 million tonnes of iron ore a year from the Pilbara.

While the EPA ultimately recommended the Government approve FMG’s expansion the public has two weeks to comment on the decision.

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