The Environmental Protection Authority has recommended a proposed uranium mine in the northern Goldfields should not be implemented.
EPA Chairman Dr Tom Hatton said Cameco Australia Pty Ltd’s Yeelirrie Uranium Project could not meet one of the nine key environmental factors examined by the independent board.
“This was an extremely complex assessment which included an extensive public consultation period, a site visit, numerous discussions with the proponent and the careful and rigorous examination of nine key environmental factors,” Dr Hatton said.
“Of the nine factors assessed, one - Subterranean Fauna - was unable to meet the EPA’s environmental objectives.”
Dr Hatton said the EPA had concluded the proposal would threaten the viability of some species of subterranean fauna (animals which live below ground), in particular stygofauna.
“The stygofauna habitat at Yeelirrie is particularly rich, with 73 species recorded - more than anywhere else in the northern Goldfields,” Dr Hatton said.
“Despite the proponent’s well considered management strategies, based on current scientific understanding, the EPA concluded that there was too great a chance of a loss of species that are restricted to the impact area.”
The proposal to mine up to 7,500 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate (UOC) per year from the Yeelirrie deposit, about 420 km north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and 70 km south west of Wiluna, includes two open pits, processing facilities, roads, accommodation, stockpile and laydown areas.
The project proposes transporting the UOC by road for export through the Port of Adelaide.
The proposal, which was assessed at the highest level of assessment - a Public Environment Review - was open for public comment for 12 weeks, attracting 169 responses and a further 2,946 pro forma submissions.
“The EPA’s recommendation is based on impacts to Subterranean Fauna,” Dr Hatton said.
“The other eight factors, including potential impacts to Flora and Vegetation, Inland Waters Environmental Quality and Decommissioning and Rehabilitation, met the EPA’s objectives.
“The EPA also concluded radiation exposure from the mine site to workers and the public would be within acceptable limits for human health.”
The EPA’s report to the Minister for Environment is now open for a two-week public appeal period, closing August 17, 2016. Appeals are administered independently by the Appeals Convenor and can be made at www.appealsconvenor.wa.gov.au
Following discussions with other decision-making authorities, the Minister for Environment makes the decision on whether the proposal should proceed.
EPA Report 1574 is available at www.epa.wa.gov.au
Media Contact: Nadia Miraudo 0400 866 450