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NT iron ore mine stabilised after government steps in

An iron ore mine in the NT's Roper Valley has been stabilised following a payment of more than $400,000 by the NT Government.

An iron ore mine in the Northern Territory’s Roper Valley has been stabilised following a payment of more than $400,000 to a contractor ahead of the wet season.

The Vietnamese-owned iron ore mine is a small project located around 260km south-east of Katherine.

Inspectors from the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade (DITT) visited the site in late 2022 and identified “high potential risks associated with erosion and sediment control”.

The DITT told the project’s owners that the risks needed to be mitigated prior to the start of the 2022–23 wet season, but the mine operator was unable to address the issues within this timeframe.

This forced the department to engage a mining contractor to undertake “urgent” works to reduce the risk of sediment-laden run-off leaving the mine site during monsoonal rains.

Additional sediment retention ponds and improved drainage was also installed.

A tender for the “wet season stabilisation” work was valued at $428,395 and completed between December 17 and December 23, 2022.

A spokesperson for the DITT told the ABC that the department will pursue the mine operator for cost recovery.

The mine has had several different owners since its 2013 commencement, with Vietnam’s largest steel manufacturer, the Hoa Phat Group, taking over in 2021.

First ore was exported under the Hoa Phat Group in July 2022; however, the mine was placed in care and maintenance that September following a fall in iron ore prices.

“The operator of the mine site is required to manage the site in accordance with the current authorisation and approved mining management plan,” a DITT spokesperson said.

“The operator is required to monitor conditions on-site and undertake any future maintenance works as necessary.

“Ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the works and site by the operator during the wet season will ensure the risk is appropriately managed and the environmental outcomes are achieved.”

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