Western Australia EPA rejects Mineral Resources’ iron ore mine proposal

11 January 2015 (Last Updated January 11th, 2015 18:30)

Western Australia's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has rejected a proposal by Polaris Metals, a subsidiary of Mineral Resources, to build a new iron ore mine in the northern Goldfields, after deeming it environmentally unacceptable.

Western Australia's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has rejected a proposal by Polaris Metals, a subsidiary of Mineral Resources, to build a new iron ore mine in the northern Goldfields, after deeming it environmentally unacceptable.

EPA chairman Dr Paul Vogel said the regulator had set the level of assessment on the Jackson 5 and Bungalbin East Iron Ore project as an assessment on proponent information, category B (environmentally unacceptable) in December.

The project is located about 50km north of Koolyanobbing in the Shire of Yilgarn and, according to Vogel it is not fit for implementation as mining the ancient banded iron formation (BIF) landforms of the Helena-Aurora Range in the Mt Manning area would cause irreversible environmental consequences.

"The Helena-Aurora Range has been identified as one of the few remaining intact BIF ranges with the highest biodiversity values in the Yilgarn Craton."

The proposal to build the mine will also disturb about 720ha of land to develop two open cut pits, waste rock dumps and supporting mine infrastructure, and would result in the permanent loss of a significant portion of the Helena-Aurora Range.

Vogel said: "The Helena-Aurora Range has been identified as one of the few remaining intact BIF ranges with the highest biodiversity values in the Yilgarn Craton."

Mining of the BIF landforms is expected to impact significant flora species directly and also result in the loss of critical habitat for these species.

The regulator decided that the proposal is environmentally unacceptable based on the proponent's own knowledge and experience, referral information and specialist advice sought.

The proposal is also said to have failed to meet the EPA's objective for landforms, flora and vegetation.

"If allowed to be implemented, this proposal would remove the physical structure of significant landforms, which host endemic, rare and geographically restricted flora species and vegetation communities."