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EPA considers proposal for extension of limestone quarry waste rock dump, Mole Creek

​The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has concluded its assessment of a proposal by Sibelco Lime (Tasmania) Pty Ltd for intensification of an overburden dump, Mole Creek in Meander Valley.

The proposal involves the extension of the existing overburden dump at the Sibelco Mole Creek limestone quarry by four hectares to allow the deposit of up to 270,000 tonnes per annum of waste rock material. A new pit design has extended the life of the quarry by approximately 20 years and its continuation requires a larger overburden dump to place the additional waste rock, which includes sandstone and low grade limestone from the quarry.

The EPA Director, Wes Ford, made the determination under delegation from the EPA Board, concluded the proposed development could be managed in an environmentally sustainable and acceptable manner, with certain conditions. The Board requires these conditions to be included in any permit subsequently granted by the Meander Valley Council.

“Various environmental issues were considered in the assessment, particularly the potential impacts on threatened flora and fauna species and ecological communities, effluent and the aquatic environment, and decommissioning and rehabilitation,” said Mr Ford.

“The EPA has imposed conditions to address these issues, including the requirement for Sibelco to develop a Natural Values Protection Plan in order to protect natural values including threatened vegetation communities and wildlife,” he said.

“To compensate for the clearance and conversion of approximately 3.2 hectares of Eucalyptus amygdalina forest and woodland on sandstone, Sibelco has agreed to conserve 10.5 hectares of the same community in an offset area on Sibelco-owned freehold land adjacent to the mining lease.

“While the proposed overburden dump extension is situated within the Mole Creek Karst Geoconservation Site, there are no known records or evidence of caves or other karst features in the proposed operational area.

“Sibelco is also required to develop a Construction Environmental Management Plan, including measures to prevent impacts upon surface waters and aquatic environments.

“Stormwater which collects in the dump footprint must be captured and treated to prevent transport of any pollutants to the Mersey River.

“Limits are imposed on the concentrations of oil and grease, chloride, sulphate, total suspended solids, iron and manganese in the stormwater,” Mr Ford said.

No representations were received in relation to the permit application. Public consultation was open for a 14 day period from 13 July 2019.

The proposal was considered by the Director 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 EPA are to administer and enforce the provisions of EMPCA, to further the RMPS and EMPCS objectives and, in particular, to use its best endeavours to protect the environment of Tasmania.

The Director undertook the assessment of the proposal in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Principles defined in Section 74 of EMPCA.

The Director’s environmental assessment report, including the environmental conditions, has been issued to Sibelco Lime (Tasmania) Pty Ltd and Meander Valley Council for their information.

The decision by the EPA Director can be viewed on the EPA website here.