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EPA considers proposal for tailings storage facility at Renison Bell

10 November 2015

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has concluded its assessment of Bluestone Mine Tasmania's proposed tailings storage facility at the Renison Tin Mine at Renison Bell on the West Coast.

The new tailings storage facility, which is planned for construction at the Renison Tin Mine, would receive up to 760,000 tonnes per annum of tailings from the existing mine operations.

The Chair of the EPA Board, Warren Jones, said that the Board concluded the tailings storage facility could be developed and 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 West Coast Council,” Mr Jones said.

“Various environmental issues were considered by the Board in its assessment, particularly the impacts on natural values and water quality, and the need to plan for closure and decommissioning,” he said.

“The Board has recommended site-specific conditions to minimise disturbance to listed threatened species during the construction and ongoing management of the tailings storage facility.

“Conditions were also included to avoid acid and metalliferous drainage occurring from the facility, and further conditions were required in planning for closure and rehabilitation of the facility to ensure long term protection of the environment,” said Mr Jones.

One representation was received, raising the issues related to impacts on water quality in Lake Pieman, and potential issues relating to dam safety. Public consultation was open for a 42 day period commencing 11 April 2015.

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 (EMPCA).

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 EMPCA.

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

The proposal is also a controlled action under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 due to the potential impacts on matters of national environmental significance, in particular, relating to listed threatened fauna. The environmental assessment was undertaken under the bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Tasmania, to enable the Commonwealth to rely on the EPA Board’s assessment processes in making its approval decision.

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