EPA recommends against a mine on an important Banded Iron Formation

Release date: 
12 January 2015

The Environmental Protection Authority has today published its report on a proposal to mine a significant Banded Iron Formation (BIF) in the northern Goldfields, finding it is environmentally unacceptable and recommending it should not be implemented.

Chairman Dr Paul Vogel said the EPA set the level of assessment on the Jackson 5 and Bungalbin East Iron Ore Project by Polaris Metals Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Mineral Resources Limited, as an Assessment on Proponent Information, category B (environmentally unacceptable) in December.

Dr Vogel said the project, about 50 kilometres north of Koolyanobbing in the Shire of Yilgarn, should not be implemented because mining the ancient BIF landforms of the Helena-Aurora Range in the Mt Manning area would cause irreversible environmental consequences.

The proposal would disturb about 720 hectares of land to develop two open cut pits, waste rock dumps and supporting mine infrastructure.

The BIF ranges are isolated ancient ranges, set in a predominantly flat landscape, that provide specialised habitats for plants, animals and ecological communities.

“The Helena-Aurora Range has been identified as one of the few remaining intact BIF ranges with the highest biodiversity values in the Yilgarn Craton,” Dr Vogel said.

“The proposal would result in the permanent loss of a significant portion of the Helena-Aurora Range, thereby compromising the integrity of the Range at a regional level.

“Mining of these BIF landforms would directly impact significant flora species, as well as result in the loss of critical habitat for these species.”

Dr Vogel said it was for this reason that the EPA set the level of assessment as an API:B. This means the EPA made a decision that the proposal is environmentally unacceptable based on the proponent’s referral information, specialist advice sought by the EPA and the EPA’s own knowledge and experience.

Dr Vogel said the proposal failed to meet the EPA’s objective for Landforms and Flora and Vegetation.

“If allowed to be implemented, this proposal would remove the physical structure of significant landforms, which host endemic, rare and geographically restricted flora species and vegetation communities,” Dr Vogel said.

“There is no way these landforms could be restored if mining was allowed. The damage would be irreversible. The proponent did not identify any proposal modification or mitigation measures which would reduce the impacts identified, therefore the EPA has recommended to the Minister for Environment that the Jackson 5 and Bungalbin East Iron Ore Project is environmentally unacceptable and should not be implemented.”

The EPA’s report to the Minister for Environment is now open for a two-week public appeal period, closing January 27, 2014. Appeals can be made at www.appealsconvenor.wa.gov.au The Minister for Environment will make the final decision.

EPA Report 1537 is available at www.epa.wa.gov.au

Media Contact: Nadia Miraudo 0400 866 450

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