The Northern Territory Environmental Protection Authority (NT EPA) in Australia has approved the Mount Todd gold project's environmental impact statement (EIS), but imposed 28 conditions to be addressed as part of the mine management plan.
The Mount Todd gold project, which is being developed by the US-based Vista Gold, is located approximately 50km north of Katherine and 250km south of Darwin. It has a mine tenement of 160,878ha including the Batman and Quigleys gold deposits.
Vista Gold president and CEO Fred Earnest said: "This marks the conclusion of a rigorous environmental risk assessment and review process that started in 2011.
"Vista now has a key legal entitlement required to move forward with the Mount Todd gold project at the appropriate time."
Among the 28 recommendations made by NT EPA, four are directly related to the Gouldian Finch, a colourful passerine bird endemic to Australia.
"Our next steps will focus on obtaining the necessary approvals under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 from the federal government (as it relates to the Gouldian Finch) and then turn our efforts to obtaining the mine operating permit from the NT Department of Mines and Energy.
"Because the EIS was based on a 50,000t per day operation and thus the largest possible impact, we have the flexibility to scale the project down initially, if the economics of a smaller project prove to be more compelling and undertake an expansion of the project at a later date, if justified.
"Our plan is to continue to evaluate opportunities to optimise and improve the Mount Todd gold project pending an improved gold price that will allow us to seek to develop the project and potentially achieve the economic returns that our shareholders expect."
According to Vista, after submitting the documents, it would take around three to four months to get authorisation under the EPBC Act, and six months after submitting the plan for the approval of the mine management plan.