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EPA Board considers proposal for Burns Peak Mining Operation

The EPA Board has concluded its assessment of the proposed mining operation in the Burns Peak Forest Reserve, on the state’s west coast, approximately 9 kilometres north-west of the township of Tullah.

Under the proposal, the Mancala Resources Pty Ltd mine is a staged operation, extracting and crushing up to 60,000 tonnes of lead-zinc ore per annum from up to three sources on site (two open cut mines and one underground operation), for a period of up to three years.

The site is currently impacted by legacy acid and metalliferous drainage from previous mining operations. The current proposal includes some remediation actions to assist in ameliorating the negative environmental impacts from past operations.

The Deputy Chair of the EPA Board Ian Abernethy says the Board has decided the proposed mining operation could be developed and managed in an environmentally sustainable and acceptable manner, with certain conditions.

"Mancala Resources Pty Ltd submitted a proposal to operate a mine on the Burns Peak Forest Reserve, approximately 9 kilometres north-west of the township of Tullah," Mr. Abernethy said.

Mr. Abernethy said no representations were received in relation to the permit application, which was submitted in April 2014.

He said the EPA Board gave consideration to various environmental issues, particularly the potential for impacts on land and waters from potentially acid-forming waste rock, and potential for impacts on threatened bird and mammal species.

"The Board has recommended site-specific conditions relating to strict and timely management and storage of waste rock generated by the mining operations, management and monitoring of water coming from the mine’s operational areas and being released into tributaries of the Marionoak River, and relating to the protection of potential fauna habitat on the site," Mr. Abernethy said.

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 EMPC Act.

The functions of the Board are to administer and enforce the provisions of the Act, 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 EMPC Act.

The EPA Board’s environmental assessment, including the environmental conditions that must be included in any permit, have been forwarded to Waratah-Wynyard 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 Assessment page.