Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has knocked back the development of two iron ore projects in the state.
The environmental watchdog advised that two proposals to mine significant banded iron formations (BIF) would cause permanent and irreversible environmental impacts, leading it to recommend against their approval.
Its recommendations apply to Mineral Resources’ Jackson 5 and Bungalbin East iron ore project in the Yilgarn area and Sinosteel Midwest Corp’s Mungada East expansion in the Mid West region.
EPA chairman Tom Hatton said BIFs were highly biodiverse ranges set in predominantly flat landscapes and amongst the oldest landforms on earth, providing specialised habitats for plants, animals and ecological communities. Once mined, restoration of the impacted landforms would not be possible.
“These proposals would significantly and permanently impact the environmental integrity of distinctive formations supporting some of the highest biodiversity and social values in their respective regions,” Hatton said.
“As high points in the landscape, they are cooler and wetter than the surrounding plains, acting as ‘terrestrial island’ habitats for unique and rare plants and animals.”
The EPA assessments involved site visits, extensive public consultation, and careful analysis of the potential impacts on multiple environmental factors before concluding that overall, the proposals were environmentally unacceptable and should not be implemented.
The Jackson 5 and Bungalbin East iron ore project proposes to construct and operate two new iron ore mines and associated infrastructure about 100km north of Southern Cross in the Yilgarn.
Mineral Resources’ proposed mining areas would be located on BIF landforms on the Helena-Aurora Range within the Mount Manning – Helena-Aurora Ranges Conservation Park.
Sinosteel’s Blue Hills Mungada East Expansion proposes to expand its existing hematite mining operations on the Mungada Ridge, 66km from Perenjori. The project includes a mine pit, waste rock dump, processing infrastructure area and haul and access roads.