The operation of the iconic Kalgoorlie Super Pit will be subject to a new regime, after WA Environment Minister David Templeman ordered the appointment of an independent auditor to oversee the implementation of a raft of tough new operating conditions.
Templeman endorsed the advice of the State’s Environmental Protection Authority that Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines’ Golden Pike Cutback expansion, which would extend the life of the mine until 2017, could go ahead.
However, the Minister will impose a string of additional conditions to ensure its continued operation for the next 10 years has limited impact on the environment and on surrounding residents.
These will include:
· ordering that KCGM significantly improve its dust management by installing two new dust-monitoring stations west of the Super Pit;
· requiring KCGM to continue to pursue improvements in noise management with the goal of reducing noise levels by three decibels in the next five years; and
· instructing the Department of Environment and Conservation to amend KCGM’s operating licence to set clear new criteria for groundwater quality and levels downstream of the tailings dam to protect flora and fauna
Templeman will also be writing to the Planning and Infrastructure Minister and the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, asking them to investigate the presence of residential dwellings within industrial zones and to find an equitable way of resolving the environmental issues that arise from these conflicting land uses.
The independent environmental auditor must be funded by KCGM for an initial period of 18 months, to report to the community through the community reference group and to the Minister on the environmental performance of KCGM.
The key tasks of the auditor will be to:
· check on compliance with the environmental conditions that the Minister has set;
· report on the results of dust monitoring and actions taken where dust levels have exceeded set criteria and can be attributable to KCGM;
· report on consistency with the noise criteria set through the Regulation 17 approval process;
· report on compliance with conditions set in the licence and performance against environmental criteria set by the licence; and
· report six-monthly to the community reference group any non-compliance of conditions or inconsistency with environment criteria as soon as practicable after identifying that non-compliance or inconsistency
The independent auditor will remain for 18 months, after which time the company will provide Mr Templeman with a report. Subject to the findings of that report, the Minister will then advise KCGM whether they must retain the independent auditor.
“I realise the superpit is a bone of contention for some people in Kalgoorlie but it is also an extremely lucrative and iconic operation with huge benefits to the local and national economy, and the tourism industry.
“Responsible governments are able to balance the needs of the local community and the economy and the protection of the environment.
“I don’t think anyone in Kalgoorlie would want this mine to close prematurely and I believe that with these tough conditions, stringent monitoring and with the co operation of KCGM, the superpit can continue to operate over the next 10 years with minimal impact on the environment and residents.
“I have also required that, as the end of the mine’s lifespan approaches, KCGM turn its mind to the preparation of a comprehensive closure, decommissioning and rehabilitation plan for this site.”