Australia's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has conditionally approved Mount Gibson's proposed Iron Hill mine 270km east-south-east of Geraldton.
The EPA’s recommendation has seven conditions, including ensuring no adverse impacts on significant flora and vegetation outside the development envelope. There is also a condition for an appropriate offsets plan.
Mount Gibson’s proposal is to mine from the Iron Hill and Iron Hill South deposits.
EPA chairman Dr Tom Hatton said that Mount Gibson Range comprises a series of banded iron formation (BIF) ridges in the southern portion, which should be protected in a formal conservation estate.
The ridges provide specialised habitats for plants, animals and ecological communities.
Hatton said: “In carefully examining this proposal, the EPA considered that given the Rare Flora species and the biodiversity values of the Mount Gibson Range, particularly in the southern portion of the range known as Mount Gibson, Gibson Hill and Mount Gibson South, this area should be protected as a class A nature reserve.
“This formal protection will ensure there is a comprehensive, adequate and secure representation of scarce or endangered habitats within the Mount Gibson Range.”
The company’s proposal has been evaluated as a public environmental review and its potential environmental impacts of three key factors such as flora and vegetation, rehabilitation and decommissioning and offsets were also examined.