Fortescue Metals Group has received a positive recommendation from Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) regarding the approval of its Eliwana iron ore project in the Pilbara region.
Fortescue’s $1.3bn Eliwana project’s proposed infrastructure includes processing and water management facilities, temporary and permanent waste landforms, and tailings storage facilities.
Final EPA approval for the project is subject to conditions including minimising impacts on surface and groundwater, flora and vegetation, subterranean fauna and places of Aboriginal cultural significance.
EPA Chair Dr Tom Hatton said if all the recommended conditions were implemented, the proposal would be environmentally acceptable: “The EPA has recommended the proponent offset this impact through a contribution to the Pilbara Environmental Offsets Fund and it has also recommended the creation of management plans to minimise impacts to surface water, groundwater, flora and vegetation and native animals.”
Through the assessment process the EPA extended its consultation time with Native Title Holders to ensure it understood the potential for the proposal to impact places of Aboriginal cultural significance.
“The EPA has recommended a condition requiring the proponent to manage impacts to cultural values, through ongoing consultation and co-operation with the Traditional Owners of the proposal area, the Puutu Kunti Kurruma and Pinikura people,” Dr Hatton said.
Eliwana is scheduled to hit a first production target for December 2020. The project will implement advanced technologies to help maintain a minimum company production of 170 million tonnes per year over the next 20 years and underpin Fortescue’s low-cost output.