The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved the expansion of Hope Downs iron ore mine, a joint venture (JV) between Rio Tinto and Gina Rinehart, in Western Australia's Pilbara region.
Located 75km north-west of Newman, the Hope Downs mine includes open-cut mine pits and associated infrastructure. It would be expanded to include the Baby Hope proposal.
Hamersley HMS represents the JV partners and proposes to amend the existing ministerial statement (584) to develop and operate the Baby Hope proposal.
The proposal will include three above water table open-pits, associated waste rock dumps, in addition to stockpiles and haul roads.
EPA chairman Dr Tom Hatton said that the proposal could be managed to meet the agency's environmental objectives.
Hatton said: "The EPA has recommended that this proposal be approved, subject to a further set of conditions.
"In addition to the existing conditions in the ministerial statement, the EPA has recommended the proponent ensure all areas within the development envelope are rehabilitated and decommissioned to restore ecological sustainability."
EPA also recommended Hamersley to contribute funds to a government-established conservation fund in order to reduce the residual impact of clearing up to 800ha of native vegetation in 'good to excellent' condition.
The final decision will be taken by the minister for environment.
Claimed to be one of the world's major iron ore provinces, the Hamersley Range, where the mine is located, comprises 80% of all identified iron ore reserves in Australia.
Image: Hope Downs is one of 12 iron ore mines operated by Rio Tinto in the Pilbara region. Photo: Copyright © 2014 Rio Tinto.