The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) of Western Australia has recommended that the environment minister conditionally approve Hinckley Range’s Wingellina nickel project.
Located 1,400km north-east of Perth in the Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku, the project intends to mine nickeliferous limonite ore from the Wingellina deposit.
Hinckley Range’s proposal to develop the project is expected to produce around 40,000t of nickel and 3,000t of cobalt every year for export to global markets.
EPA chairman Dr Tom Hatton said: "This proposal was assessed as a public environmental review and was open to public submissions for eight weeks.
"In assessing the proposal, the EPA noted the proponent’s efforts to avoid and minimise environmental impacts by using best practice technology, dust-suppression measures, minimising vegetation clearing footprints and preparing a mine closure plan, which addresses rehabilitation, stakeholder consultation and the decommissioning of mining infrastructure."
Of the seven conditions recommended by the EPA, one condition requires a revised air quality management plan to minimise the impacts of atmospheric and particulate emissions.
Another condition requires reduction of impacts on a conservation significant flora species from ground disturbing activities that are associated with the borefield and pipeline.
The final decision will be made by the minister for environment.
The Wingellina Nickel project proposal involves open-pit mining of nickeliferous limonite ore, as well as on-site processing using a high-pressure acid leach process to produce a nickel-cobalt hydroxide product for shipping to third-party refineries.