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WA mining projects rejected for second time

Thursday 29th of June 2017 07:57:33 AM



Mineral Resources Limited's Jackson 5 and Bungalbin East Iron Ore Project first applied to operate two new iron ore mines in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region in 2015.

The proposal was referred to the EPA for assessment, and the agency said they would not attempt to assess the area, located around 100 kilometres north of Southern Cross on the Helena-Aurora Range, due to its environmental importance.

The recommendation was rejected however, by then-Environment Minister Albert Jacobs, who ordered a public environmental review be conducted to assess the area’s feasibility as a possible mine site.

The EPA, over the last two years, have conducted their assessment of the Helena-Aurora Range and found it was home to five new species and a mineral unique to the region.

EPA chairman Tom Hatton announced their findings on Wednesday, and said the impact on existing flora, vegetation, social amenities and landforms would be "environmentally unacceptable".

"These proposals would significantly and permanently impact the environmental integrity of distinctive formations supporting some of the highest biodiversity and social values in their respective regions," he said.

Under legislation, the Environment Minister can choose to reject or accept the recommendations made by the EPA.

Wilderness Society state director Jenita Enevoldsen said twice now the EPA has recommended against these two proposed mines within two years.

"With around 40 years of scientific recommendations for permanent protection and 1500 hundred community submissions rejecting the proposed mines, the future protection of the range seems secure."

However Chamber of Minerals and Energy natural resources manager Kane Moyle, urged the government to consider the recommendation carefully.

"The EPA's recommendation against approval of two mid-west banded iron formation mines is a disappointing decision given each proposal represents a small fraction of disturbance to the total landform," he said.

"The final decision on approval of the two projects now lies with the Minister for Environment, where consideration of the respective social, economic, and environmental merits will be considered.

Conservation groups are now calling to not only accept the position of the EPA, but to create a national park inside the Helena Aurora Ranges.

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