Extension to uranium mine recommended for approval: EPA Report 1580

Release date: 
06 September 2016

An extension to Toro Energy Limited’s Wiluna Uranium Project has been recommended for strict conditional approval by the Environmental Protection Authority.

The proposal to mine two additional deposits, Millipede and Lake Maitland, 30 kilometres south and 105 kilometres south-east of Wiluna respectively, also includes associated infrastructure and a haul road. The proposal would extend the Wiluna Uranium project that received Ministerial approval in 2012.

Open-pit mining would be used to extract the uranium ore and processed at a facility which was part of the approved project. Up to five containers a month would be transported by road for shipment from the Port of Adelaide or by rail to the Port of Darwin. Transportation was also previously examined for the approved project.

“The EPA meticulously examines each proposal on its individual merits and in this case, the proposal was assessed at the most rigorous level of environmental impact assessment - a Public Environmental Review - attracting eight government agency, three non-government organisation and 59 individual responses as well as 2,392 proforma submissions throughout the 12 week consultation period,” Dr Hatton said.

“The EPA’s assessment also included a site visit and careful review of the potential impact on seven environmental factors including Flora and Vegetation, Subterranean Fauna, Human Health and Hydrological Processes before recommending the proposal could be implemented subject to 18 stringent conditions.”

The recommended conditions ensure monitoring and management plans are implemented to manage impacts on conservation significant flora, heritage, vegetation and subterranean fauna (animals which live below ground), in particular stygofauna.

Dr Hatton said the EPA had undertaken a detailed assessment of subterranean fauna and considered a range of evidence, including a peer review, on their biology and also the geology of the area. The EPA noted in this case that most of the surveyed stygofauna had potential habitat beyond the project footprint and were highly likely to occur outside of the impact areas. The EPA did consider that there was the potential for one species to be restricted to the edge of the impact areas, however it found in this case that it was possible to protect this species through an exclusion zone.

The EPA concluded radiation exposure to mine-site workers and the public would be within acceptable limits for human health. The Radiological Council, together with the Department of Mines and Petroleum, would also regulate potential impacts to human health.

The EPA’s report to the Minister for Environment is now open for a two-week public appeal period, closing September 20, 2016. Appeals are administered independently by the Appeals Convenor and can be made at www.appealsconvenor.wa.gov.au

As the proposal is also being assessed under a bilateral agreement with the Commonwealth Government, both State and Federal Ministers for the Environment will make a decision based on their respective legislation.

EPA Report 1580 is available at www.epa.wa.gov.au

Media Contact: Nadia Miraudo 0400 866 450