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EPA considers proposal for a magnetite mine in NW Tasmania

​ The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has concluded its assessment of a proposed magnetite mine near Hampshire in the municipality of Burnie City Council.

The proposal by Forward Mining Limited involves the development of an open cut magnetite mine located off Upper Natone Road near Hampshire, approximately 27 km south of Burnie. It includes the establishment of an open cut pit, waste rock dumps, tailings storage facility, stormwater water infrastructure, roads, and a processing plant. The mine will extract and process magnetite ore, producing up to one million tonnes of magnetite concentrate per year over a mine life of eight years.

The Chair of the EPA Board, Warren Jones, said that the Board concluded the proposed development could be managed in an environmentally sustainable and acceptable manner, with certain conditions. The EPA requires these conditions to be included in any permit subsequently granted by the Burnie City Council.

“Various environmental issues were considered by the Board in its assessment, particularly the management of waste rock, tailings and mine effluent,” Mr Warren Jones said.

“Conditions have been imposed to ensure appropriate management practices are in place and the release of mine water to the environment is tightly controlled within set limits,” he said.

One representation was received in relation to the permit application, which was referred to the Board in February 2017. No environmental issues were raised in the representation. Public consultation was open for a 42 day period commencing 17 December 2016.

The proposal was considered by the Board in the context of the sustainable development objectives of the Resource Management and Planning System of Tasmania (RMPS), and in the context of the objectives of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control System (EMPCS) established by the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (the EMPC Act).

The functions of the Board are to administer and enforce the provisions of EMPCA, and in particular to use its best endeavours to protect the environment of Tasmania, and to further the RMPS and EMPCS objectives.

The Board undertook the assessment of the proposal in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Principles defined in Section 74 of the Act. The proposal was also assessed as part of the Bilateral Agreement with the Commonwealth in relation to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and still requires approval by the Commonwealth minister.

The Board’s environmental assessment, including the environmental conditions that must be included in any permit, have been forwarded to the Burnie City Council, for review of planning issues prior to making a decision as to whether a permit is to be granted.

The decision by the EPA Board can be viewed on the EPA website at www.epa.tas.gov.au/assessment/completed-assessments.