South32 updates Worsley mine expansion plan

South32 Worsley Alumina has submitted a revised proposal to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for expansion of the Worsley bauxite mine in Western Australia.

The updated proposal involves clearing up to 7119.5 hectares of native vegetation for the mine and related activities, and requires two river crossings over the Hotham River.

It forms part of the company’s plan to expand the existing mining area and incorporation of new mining areas alongside the development of a bauxite transport corridor.

South32’s proposal also includes the development of a contingency mining area and maintenance work at the refinery and development of associated mine and support infrastructure.

The EPA opened the proposal for public comment on whether it should assess the proposal and at what level, with the consultation process closing July 9.

South32 revised its proposal after the EPA terminated the company’s previous request to increase its mining footprint by 1205 hectares in 2017.

The previous proposal included clearing up to 350 hectares of native vegetation and fauna habitat and the disturbance to the banks of the Hotham River for the development of two haul road crossings.

Refinery production increase was also expected to result in increased mining and residue deposition rates and a potential increase to air emissions.

Worsley is one of South32’s larger global operations, accounting for $1.47 billion in revenue and $422 million in underlying earnings before interest and taxes in the 2018 financial year.

South32 is the majority owner at 86 per cent ownership, with the remainder split between Japan Alumina (10 per cent) and Sojitz Alumina (4 per cent).

The company also operates the Boddington bauxite mine, Worsley refinery and port operations at Bunbury.

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