Environment Minister Judy Edwards has approved an eight-week public consultation period as part of the environmental assessment process for the proposed Kalgoorlie Superpit expansion.
The proposal, by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines, involves deepening the Superpit to about 670m, creating further waste rock dumps, building more tailings storage facilities and planning for the mine’s closure.
The proposal, if given the environmental go-ahead, will extend the mine’s operations by five years until 2017.
Dr Edwards said the Environmental Protection Authority had determined that the project should be formally assessed through a Public Environmental Review. During the public appeals process following the EPA’s decision, nine appeals were received requesting that the project be assessed at a higher level.
Key concerns in the appeals related to the potential impacts of the proposed expansion, including dust, noise and vibration emissions, increased groundwater seepage from tailings and potential health issues. Doubts were also raised in relation to the proposal to reduce the safety exclusion zone for the pit.
“Given the scale of the Superpit and its close proximity to the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, it is imperative that the proposal is subject to detailed and careful environmental assessment,” the Minister said.
“Having considered the matters raised in appeals and the EPA’s advice, I am satisfied that the Public Environmental Review process, with an eight-week public comment period, is an appropriate level of assessment for the environmental issues to be properly considered and to provide for the public to review the proposal and provide comment.
“However, I also have asked the EPA to give specific consideration to the matters raised in the appeals.
“In particular, the EPA’s assessment of the tailings storage aspects of the proposal will have to consider the outcomes of ongoing studies as well as any potential cumulative impacts associated with the existing tailings facilities.”
Dr Edwards said while she welcomed the proposal to include planning for the mine’s closure within the EPA’s assessment of the expansion, she would ask the EPA to review and comment on the need for any financial bonds as part of the environmental approval process.
“Further, in light of the recent information relating to mercury emissions from KCGM’s operations in Kalgoorlie and the concerns raised by appellants, I also have asked the EPA to consult with the Department of Health as a part of its assessment,” she said.
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