Rio Tinto’s proposed expansion of the West Angelas iron ore mine in the Pilbara, Western Australia is a step closer to construction with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)’s approval.
West Angelas’ Deposits C, D and G will be enlarged by 4100 hectares to 26,700 hectares to sustain production levels at 34 million tonnes a year with the growth project.
The Environment Minister’s recommendation is subject to conditions, including the protection of national park water resources and endangered ghost bats.
Rio Tinto expects to minimise the impacts of clearing native vegetation to flora, fauna and inland waters, and address West Angelas’ rehabilitation in its mine closure plan.
The West Angelas expansion is part of Rio Tinto’s Robe River joint venture with Mitsui and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal to produce the premium Pilbara Blend iron ore and Robe Valley lump and fines in the coming years.
“The additional Robe Valley deposits will enable us to continue to provide a highly valued product to our long-term customers across Asia,” Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said.
Rio Tinto plans to launch construction this year ahead of a forecasted production start in 2021.
EPA deputy chair Robert Harvey acknowledged “the scientific rigour of the environmental assessment work and conditions to ensure there is no groundwater drawdown impacts on Karijini National Park.”
“This assessment work and recommended conditions constitute a comprehensive approach to management of environmental impacts, following a proactive approach by the proponent and extensive consultation with the EPA,” Harvey said.
Rio Tinto’s nearby iron ore operations include Hope Downs 1 and Yandicoogina.