Western Australia Environment Minister Donna Faragher has extended the public consultation period on the level of assessment of BHP Billiton Yeelirrie Development Company’s proposed open cut uranium ore mine.
The plan by the company to develop an open cut uranium ore mine, processing plant and associated infrastructure will be assessed at the level of Environmental Review and Management Program (ERMP), as originally recommended by the Environmental Protection Authority, with an extended 14-week public consultation period.
Faragher said the level of assessment had been set at the highest level under the Environmental Protection Act 1986.
The Minister has determined, however, that the consultation period should be extended from the 10 weeks recommended by the EPA, to 14 weeks.
“A total of nine appeals were received in relation to this matter,” she said.
“Appellants submitted that the level of assessment set for this proposal should be set at a public inquiry.
“A public inquiry is not a level of assessment and the level for this proposal will remain at ERMP, as it is the highest level available.”
Faragher said appeals received had submitted that a public inquiry would be needed to cover issues dealing with environmental, indigenous heritage and other broader matters.
“However, whether the assessment is through an ERMP or public inquiry under the Act – it can only consider environmental matters relevant to the assessment of the proposal – rather than broader issues,” she said.
“I have, however, considered the issues raised in the appeals and believe there is merit in extending the public consultation period.”
BHP Billiton plans to export uranium oxide concentrate for export through either the South Australia or Northern Territory ports from its mine, situated about 110 km north-west of Leinster.