Unavoidable environmental damage will be caused by a huge expansion of mineral sand mining on ten West Coast beaches.
Consultants employed by the Australian company Mineral Sands Resources (MSR) say that the damage can be reduced to “acceptable levels”. This finding comes after an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was done as part of a new application by controversial Australian mining company MSR.
A draft of the EIA was released while the company awaits a decision on its application to condone earlier disregard of environmental regulations, as the company began mining activities before they were approved by the Department of Mineral Resources.
The MSR currently runs a 120 hectare Tormin Mineral Sands Mine on the West Coast near Lutzville. This mine extracts extremely rich concentrations of mineral sands from below the high-water mark.
Last year, MSR applied to extend mining operations to another ten beaches just north of the Tormin Mine. This would involve extending the mining areas over 43.7 hectares and mining 75 hectares of the former shoreline.
Tormin also requested approval for an additional 64- hectares infrastructure and plant expansion area.
On 22 November 2017, the department refused environmental authorisation, saying it was not satisfied with the way the impact assessment process had been conducted or with the company’s compliance with legal requirements as the company had already begun work on listed activities unlawfully,
Tormin then applied to have their previous unlawful activities made legal, as well as restarted the environmental assessment for the mine’s expansion, which will involve progressive strip mining of the inland former shoreline using excavators to collect the mineralised sand layer up to a maximum depth of 30 meters.
The department has not yet ruled on the applications made.
Consultants of the mining company have noted that most of the land under application falls within a Critical Biodiversity Area, designated to promote coastal resource protection and to maintain the ecological processes associated with it.
“The Tormin Mine extension project will result in unavoidable adverse environmental impacts. None of these adverse impacts are considered unacceptably significant and all can be managed to tolerable levels through the effective implementation of the recommended mitigation measures. In addition, the project will, directly and indirectly, benefit the local and regional economy.” consultants of MSR told Ground Up.
MSR consultants stated that on purely environmental grounds, the application should be approved, provided the proposed mitigation measures are taken.