Western Australia’s first uranium mine has been recommended for approval by the Environmental Protection Authority.Release Date:
21 May 2012Details:
EPA Chairman Paul Vogel today said the environmental impacts of Toro Energy’s proposal had been meticulously examined by the board.
“The EPA recognises that as the first uranium mine proposed for WA, public interest has been high,” Dr Vogel said.
“As with all the proposals assessed by the EPA, I can assure the public we have applied the highest level of scrutiny in our examination of its environmental acceptability.”
The proposal consists of two deposits, Centipede and Lake Way, located about 550 km north of Kalgoorlie and 30km south and 15km south east of Wiluna.
The project includes the mining, processing and transport of uranium oxide concentrate product from the mine to the Western Australian border.
It is expected the mine will operate for 14 years, with up to two million tonnes of mineralised ore mined and 1200 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate expected to be produced each year.
Dr Vogel said the Radiological Council, with support from the Department of Health, and the Department of Mines and Petroleum had primary responsibility for ensuring radiation risks were managed within international and national standards to protect human and environmental health.
“These key government agencies are responsible for regulating the mining, processing, packing, handling, storage and transport of uranium oxide concentrate,” Dr Vogel said.
“DMP has primary responsibility on the mine site and the Radiological Council has primary responsibility off-site. The Commonwealth also has legislation and power in relation to transport.
“During our thorough assessment, the EPA consulted extensively with these agencies and considers that the existing regulatory framework provides a comprehensive legislative system for regulating uranium mining and transport.”
Dr Vogel said the EPA also advised that all environmental management plans approved by the agencies should be made publicly available.
He said the proposal could meet the EPA’s objectives for key environmental factors, including radiation management, transport, mine closure and rehabilitation, groundwater and water supply, surface water, air quality, flora and vegetation, fauna and habitat and Aboriginal heritage.
Dr Vogel said the main ecological issues were about the protection of a local plant species called Tecticornia and the protection of underground stygofauna species.
While stygofauna were unlikely to be impacted significantly, the EPA recommended strict conditions, including offsets, to ensure the protection of the Tecticornia.
“The offset will contribute to the EPA’s objective to maintain the abundance, diversity, geographic distribution and productivity of flora species through research to improve knowledge,” Dr Vogel said.
The EPA’s report to the Minister for Environment is now open for a two week public appeal period, closing June 5, 2012.
Media Contact: Nadia Miraudo 0400 866 450Status: