Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority has awarded conditional approval to Rio Tinto for a new 70 million tonne a year iron ore mine in the Pilbara, reports ABC.
Rio Tinto subsidiary Mount Bruce Mining wants to develop the Koodaideri mine which is expected to produce up to 70 million tonnes of iron ore a year for a mine life of 30 years, if WA’s state Minister for Environment Albert Jacob green-lights the project.
The Koodaideri mine is located about 110 kilometres west-north-west of Newman.
The Environmental Protection Authority has imposed 14 conditions on the mine including the creation of buffers and an exclusion zone to protect local species the Pilbara Leaf-nosed Bat, the Northern Quoll and the Pilbara Olive Python.
“The management plan and exclusion zones will also protect the Koodaideri Spring and the associated creek and pools that provide a near permanent source of water, which in turn will safeguard vegetation as well as habitat for the Pilbara leaf-nosed bat, northern quoll and the Pilbara olive python,” EPA chairman Paul Vogel said in a statement.
“Although the risk of the proposal increasing the spread of asbestos in the environment is low, the EPA is taking a cautious approach by recommending a condition on asbestos management during design and construction of the rail line,” Dr Vogel said.
The project is part of Rio’s long-term plans to boost its Pilbara exports to 360 million tonnes a year.
The company also announced on Monday that it plans to advance discussions for a second extension to the Channar Mining iron ore joint venture in the Pilbara.
The announcement followed the signing of a Heads of Agreement at Parliament House in Canberra with Sinosteel Corporation.
“The Channar joint venture was a ground-breaking partnership formed in the early stages of the development of the Chinese steel industry. It’s now one of China’s longest running and most successful partnerships with Australia and a model for economic co-operation between our two countries. The signing demonstrates the commitment by Rio Tinto and Sinosteel to continue exploring opportunities that build on a mutually beneficial partnership that has developed over many years,” said Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh.
“The signing of this agreement is another milestone in 27 years of successful cooperation between Sinosteel and Rio Tinto. As a large international enterprise providing comprehensive services for the Chinese iron and steel industry, Sinosteel is committed to developing broader and deeper cooperation with Rio Tinto,” said Sinosteel Corporation president Xu Siwei.