Polaris Metals iron ore development rejected by EPA

A proposal for a new iron ore mine in Western Australia has been rejected by the EPA on grounds of irreversible impact on flora and fauna.

The EPA’s advice to the WA Minister for Environment stated that the proposal by Polaris Metals to develop Banded-Iron Formation (BIF) landforms of the Helena-Aurora Range could not be managed to meet EPA objective for Landforms, Flora and Vegetation, and therefore should not be implemented.

The Polaris Metals iron ore projects Jackson 5 and Bungalbin East, near Koolyanobbing, were found to have significant impacts on significant BIF landforms where biodiversity was such that some species of flora are “so specialised they only occur on a single BIF range”.

EPA chairman Paul Vogel said the projects would disturb 720 hectares of land in the Yilgarn region.

“Mining of these BIF landforms would directly impact significant flora species, as well as result in the loss of critical habitat for these species,” Vogel said.

“The EPA considers that there is a high degree of confidence that the loss of the physical structure of BIF landforms and the aggregation of environmental values it hosts, would result in serious and irreversible impact to the integrity of the Helena-Aurora Range at a regional level,” the recommendations report said.

The report also recognised that seven sites of Aboriginal cultural significance had been recorded on and near the sites in question.

The Polaris proposal, submitted in May last year, would have resulted in recovery of up to 115 million tonnes of iron ore from two pits, to be processed at the nearby Carina Mine, with construction to have commenced towards the end of 2016.

Processing would result in 186 million tonnes of waste to be dumped.

The appeals period for the proposal will end on 27 January 2015, after which the minister will decide on the fate of the proposal.

Polaris Metals is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mineral Resources Limited.

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