A proposal for exploration drilling on the Mungada Ridge has been recommended for strict conditional approval by the Environmental Protection Authority.
The Sinosteel Midwest Corporation Limited’s proposal, about 420 km north-east of Perenjori, involves the clearing of existing and new access tracks and the clearing and levelling of drill pads for exploration in the area – giving a total cleared area of less than one hectare.
There will be no widening of existing tracks at the site and new tracks for resource definition drilling will be up to 2.5m wide, with up to 16 drill pads to measure up to 20m in length and 15m in width.
EPA Chairman Dr Paul Vogel said the proposal, which was assessed as an Assessment on Proponent Information, category A, was located on the Mungada Ridge – an area of high landscape and biodiversity values in the Blue Hills.
Dr Vogel said the exploration proposal also falls within the same area as another Sinosteel proposal for mining, which the EPA determined as environmentally unacceptable in November 2014, but had been considered as a separate matter.
“While the two proposals are in the same area, the exploration drilling proposal has been evaluated on its own merits and raises far fewer factors and impacts for consideration,” Dr Vogel said.
“This proposal is not of the same scale - magnitude or duration – nor does it present the same potential impacts on landforms that have been identified as part of Sinosteel’s other proposal for mining.”
The EPA’s recommendation on the original mining proposal is still in the Minister for Environment’s appeals process.
For this proposal, the EPA has recommended the preparation and implementation of a Rehabilitation Plan to ensure the rehabilitation of cleared and disturbed areas.
The rehabilitation must be undertaken using native flora species of the local area, and be of a condition and diversity comparable to natural vegetation surrounding the proposal area to ensure that the landscape and biodiversity values of Mungada Ridge are retained.
The EPA’s report to the Minister for Environment is now open for a two-week public appeal period, closing 7 April. Appeals can be made at www.appealsconvenor.wa.gov.au
The Minister for Environment will make the final decision.
EPA Report 1544 “Exploration Drilling Mungada Blue Hills East” is available at www.epa.wa.gov.au
EPA Media Contact: Nadia Miraudo 0400 866 450 / Stacey Molloy 0437 861 315 (Fridays)