The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has concluded its assessment of a proposal by Grange Resources (Tasmania) Pty Ltd for expansion of Centre Pit and construction of a waste rock backfill dump at Savage River Mine in the Waratah-Wynyard municipality. The proposal was referred to the Board in December 2020.
Grange Resources (Tasmania) Pty Ltd proposes to recommence mining in Centre Pit North and Centre Pit South, and merge them into one combined pit, referred to as Centre Pit. The pit design involves cut back to the pit walls and extending the pit depth, with excavation of approximately 31 Mt of ore and 255 Mt of waste, of which 106 Mt is classified as Potentially Acid Forming (PAF).
Mining will be undertaken in 3 stages over 13 years, and initially involves dewatering of Centre Pit South, which contains approximately 2.7 GL of water. The pit water will be discharged to Savage River via South Lens water body, a historically flooded pit that is currently used to help treat mine water on site. The proposal also involves the backfilling of South Deposit Pit with approximately 17 million cubic metres of waste rock.
The Deputy Chairperson of the EPA Board, Ms Belinda Hazell, said that the Board concluded the proposed development can 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 Waratah Wynyard Council.
“Various environmental issues were considered by the Board in its assessment, particularly the potential impact to Savage River from dewatering Centre Pit South. The Board has determined the proposal is unlikely to result in environmental nuisance or harm, and has imposed a framework to ensure this expectation is achieved. This includes implementing an adaptive management program requiring reduced dewatering rates should various water quality triggers be exceeded," Ms Hazell said.
No representations were received in relation to the proposal. Public consultation was open for 28 days from 8 December 2021.
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 the EMPC Act, to further the RMPS and EMPCS objectives and, in particular, to use its best endeavours to protect the environment of Tasmania.
The Board undertook the assessment of the proposal in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Principles defined in Section 74 of the Act. The Board's environmental assessment report, including the environmental conditions, has been issued to Grange Resources (Tasmania) Pty Ltd and Waratah-Wynyard Council.
The decision by the EPA Board in relation to Grange Resources (Tasmania) Pty Ltd, Savage River Mine has been published.