JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has recommended diversified major BHP’s proposal to expand its Mining Area C iron-ore operations for environmental approval.
The Southern Flank operation, about 100 km from Newman, will expand the existing Mining Area C hub and is BHP’s preferred option to replace the 80-million-tonne-a-year Yandi mine, which will reach the end of its mine life in early- to mid-2020.
However, the EPA has said that the expansion should only be allowed to proceed with strict conditions and offsets aimed at protecting the local Ghost Bat population and ensuring the expansion’s water management does not impact on the Weeli Wolli Spring and Coondewanna Flats.
The miner will also be required to report on greenhouse gas emissions and on the continued implementation of a cultural heritage management plan to minimise the impacts on sites of Aboriginal significance.
To expand iron-ore operations, BHP intends clearing 16 257 ha of vegetation for an opencut mine, associated mining infrastructure, an overland conveyor, accommodation villages and the construction and operation of a rail spur.
The EPA has recommended that BHP make a contribution to State government’s Pilbara Environmental Offset Fund for the residual impacts on Ghost Bat habitat and the clearing of native vegetation.
The EPA’s report to the Environment Minister is now open for a public appeal period until December 22.