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EPA considers proposal for tailings dam at Rosebery

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has concluded its assessment of a proposed mine tailings dam in Rosebery within the West Coast Council municipal area.

MMG Limited proposes to redevelop a group of former tailings dams in South Rosebery in order to dispose of tailings from its Rosebery mine when the existing tailings dam at Bobadil reaches capacity sometime in 2017. The redevelopment involves raising the walls of the former dams and constructing a new embankment.

The Chair of the EPA Board, Warren Jones, said that the Board concluded the activity 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 dust and noise impacts on residents of Rosebery during the construction period, and the potential impact on water quality in the Stitt River," said Mr Jones.

"The company is required to monitor dust and noise levels, and to report these to the EPA during both the construction and operational phases," he said.

"It is also required to submit a comprehensive environmental management plan for the construction works for approval by the EPA, providing details of measures to minimise dust and noise impact on Rosebery residents. Work on Sundays and public holidays will be prohibited under a further permit condition imposed by the EPA.

"Several conditions have been imposed to protect and improve the water quality in the Stitt River, including permanent coverage of the tailings by water to reduce the generation of acid drainage. The water cover will also minimise dust blow-off from the site," said Mr Jones.

Public consultation was open for a 42 day period commencing on 3 October 2015. Five public representations were received, covering a range of issues but the main concerns raised were related to dust and noise impacts. The Board’s assessment considered each of the environmental issues raised in the representations.

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