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Former Minister for the Environment; Science
Minister approves works at Fimiston storage facility Kalgoorlie
19/01/2005 1:00 PM
Environment Minister Judy Edwards today said a proposal by KCGM to increase the height of its Fimiston 1 tailings storage facility at Kalgoorlie could proceed.
Dr Edwards considered 13 appeals against the Environmental Protection Authority’s recommendation that the expansion did not need a formal environmental assessment.
The Minister’s decision followed an independent technical assessment initiated by the Minister for State Development, which included investigations of geotechnical and hydrological performance at the tailings facility.
Dr Edwards said the review found that while seepage from the tailings had impacted on groundwater quality and increased levels to within two metres of the surface, subsequent pumping by KCGM had lowered these levels.
It also found that the level of contamination did not appear to have impacted on the level of water quality required for mining activities.
“The review concluded that the facility was engineered to a high standard and that the proposal to raise the height of the facility was technically feasible, as long as further studies were carried out on seepage and embankment design,” the Minister said.
“I have determined that KCGM, over time, could proceed with plans to increase the Fimiston Tailings Storage Facility from 30 to 40 metres, as long as it occurs in a staged manner with the first installation not to exceed 2.5 metres.”
Dr Edwards said the company must develop and implement a seepage and groundwater management plan. Subsequent stages of expansion would not be approved unless KCGM was able to demonstrate that seepage from the facility was being reduced and that groundwater levels were able to be lowered to historical levels.
”The implementation of the seepage and groundwater management plan would be subject to annual independent audits, the results of which would be made publicly available,” the Minister said.
“This plan and the licence for the facility should also reflect the recommendations of the independent technical review.
“The regulation of KCGM’s operations in Kalgoorlie is administered by the Department of Industry and Resources and the Department of Environment and I have written to the Minister for State Development to ensure that the actions of both agencies are appropriately focused toward ensuring improved performance by KCGM.”
Dr Edwards said the outcome of the appeals determination would be implemented through:
a combination of restrictions on works approvals required under the Environmental Protection Act;
a review of the Environmental Protection Act licence for the facility; and
additional conditions and bonds to be imposed on KCGM’s licence issued under the Mining Act.
Minister's office: 9220 5050