Legend phosphate plant approval up in the air

 The Mount Isa City Council’s recommendations may nix the construction of the Legend International’s proposed phosphate plant.

The Council has recommended the QLD Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) only approve the project if the miner provides accommodation for its workers in "mixed use housing in Mount Isa urban areas", the North West Star reports.

John Molony, Mount Isa’s mayor, said the request is fair although it was not common for councils to make such recommendations.

"This is the only Environmental Impact Statement we have responded to.

"We have had nothing come to our attention that would impact upon the city like this," he said.

It comes after the miner received approval for its $800 million mining lease in the area.

Legend International Holdings was given approval for a second mining lease in the North West Queensland Minerals Province and premier Anna Bligh said it was a positive indication that investors were confident in mining and resources in Queensland.

"With Legend’s estimate of almost 200 million tonnes of mineral reserves in the area, we are looking at a mine with an operational life of 60 years," she said.

At the time, Bligh said "rigorous checks and balances are in place but we’ve made an effort to reduce red tape to make sure developments that check all the right boxes can be up and running quickly".

Local government also welcomed the development of the mine, with Mount Isa MP Betty Kiernan saying the benefits from the project would be widespread and varied.

"With Legend also planning to build a fertiliser plant in Mount Isa and export the product via the Port of Townsville, this will keep the North-West on the international map for many, many years," Kiernan said.

Legend’s project manager Ed Walker said it had applied for a staged development on its two granted mining leases and a third lease covering the project.

"After operating in the Mount Isa region for over three years, Legend realises that understanding our environmental impact is essential to the Mount Isa community," he said.

Molony stated that if the council’s housing recommendations were approved by the DERM, the miner would have to construct "some houses to suit a husband and a wife and a family and some unit type housing".

Its recommendations also required Legend International to carry out traffic studies to investigate whether a by-pass around the town was needed.

"The traffic study would bring forth the details of the difficulties of bringing these heavy tonnages every day along the Barkly Highway and down Railway Avenue through three sets of lights," Molony told the North West Star.

He went on to say that if a by-pass was required, the miner should pay for it.

Walker declined to comment on the latest recommendations.


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