EPA recommends approval for new railway line in the Pilbara: EPA Report 1540

Release date: 
16 March 2015

A 205km railway and conveyor line connecting a Pilbara iron ore mine to export facilities has been recommended for conditional approval by the Environmental Protection Authority.

Forge Resources Swan Pty Ltd’s Balla Balla Infrastructure - Rail and Conveyor Project will link the approved Balla Balla Export Facilities midway between Port Hedland and Karratha with the Flinders Pilbara Iron Ore Project in the central Pilbara region.

EPA Chairman Dr Paul Vogel said the Balla Balla Export facilities were intended to allow export of ore from the proponent’s approved Balla Balla Magnetite Mining Project. The proponent requested the EPA assess the construction of the 160km railway line and 45km conveyor line to accommodate third party use of the export facilities.

The proposal also includes rail crossings, access roads, borrow pits, communication services, water and power supplies, pipelines, accommodation camps, workshop and laydown areas and a landfill site.

Dr Vogel said the proponent considered six alternative rail corridors to minimise potential impacts to the environment, including avoiding the Nunyerry Gorge, home to a large population of Northern Quoll.

“The EPA has carefully examined this proposal and concluded it could recommend approval subject to a set of conditions,” Dr Vogel said.

Specifically, the proponent will be required to:

  • Prepare a Terrestrial Flora and Vegetation Management Plan, detailing actions to minimise impacts from fire, weeds and changes to surface water flows;
  • Prepare a Conservation Significant Fauna Management Plan, ensuring construction and operation activities minimise impacts to fauna, in particular the Northern Quoll, Bilby and Pilbara Olive Python; and
  • Ensure qualified fauna-rescue personnel clear open trenches of trapped fauna at least twice daily.

“The EPA has also recommended the proponent rehabilitate disturbed areas using locally native flora species as well as contribute to a government-established conservation offset fund to mitigate for significant residual impacts on vegetation in ‘good to excellent’ condition,” Dr Vogel said.

The EPA’s report to the Minister for Environment is now open for a two-week public appeal period, closing March 30, 2015. Appeals are administered independently by the Appeals Convenor and can be made at www.appealsconvenor.wa.gov.au The Minister for Environment will make the final decision.

EPA Report 1540 is available at www.epa.wa.gov.au

Media Contact: Nadia Miraudo 0400 866 450 / Stacey Molloy 0437 861 315 (Fridays)

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