Sinosteel confident of iron ore mine expansion despite setbacks

Sinosteel Midwest Corp has backed the proposed expansion of its Blue Hills Mungada East iron ore mine in Western Australia despite opposition from the state government and environmental watchdog.

WA environment minister Stephen Dawson this week dismissed appeals against an Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) recommendation not to approve the expansion.

In June, the EPA recommended that the plan to mine significant banded iron formations at the Blue Hills Mungada East site would cause permanent and irreversible environmental impacts.

Despite appeals against the EPA’s findings, Dawson supported the watchdog’s advice to block Sinosteel’s proposed expansion.

Sinosteel general manager Stuart Griffiths, in response, said extensive research undertaken in partnership with independent, internationally respected environmental experts reinforced that flora and vegetation communities could be restored.

“For the past five years, we’ve worked closely with the Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority to ensure we have the knowledge and supporting science to be able to restore the minimal impact our proposal will have on local flora,” Griffiths said.

“The area, which is surrounded by several other mining operations, is already a mine site with existing infrastructure in place as well as several historic workings that we are proposing to rehabilitate.”

According to Sinosteel, the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority’s scientific division provided positive recommendations during the appeal regarding flora and vegetation, stating that the rare plant species, Acacia Woodmaniorum, can germinate, grow and reproduce on disturbed areas.

“We remain committed to continuing our scientific research project for another five years with the Australian Research Council’s Centre for Mine Site Restoration,” Griffiths said.

“During the Section 45C(1) process Sinosteel understands the Minister will consider the possible future uses of the area for tourism and recreational activities.

“However, access by the public to the Blue Hills mine area for the purposes of tourism and recreation is highly restricted due to active mining tenure and will remain so for at least the next 20 years.”

Dawson will now consult with his ministerial colleagues to ensure the social, economic and environmental aspects of the proposal are considered.

“We are confident of a positive outcome when all aspects of the proposal are considered, including 130 direct jobs, over 1000 indirect jobs and an estimated $20 million in state royalties,” Griffiths concluded.

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