Green light for $1b Far North mine expansion
THE $1 billion extension of Rio Tinto Alcan's bauxite mine operations near Weipa would have little impact on the Great Barrier Reef, fauna and flora, according to the draft environmental impact statement released today.
The assessment of the South of Embley project concludes that with the implementation of proposed avoidance and mitigation measures, the impacts of the construction and operation on all listed threatened species, bird and other animals "would not be significant".
The statement determines that any shipping also would have no significant impacts on the Reef.
"It is considered that the project is environmentally, socially and economically acceptable and complies with the principles of ecologically sustainable development," the statement says.
Rio Tinto Alcan bauxite and alumina president and chief executive officer Pat Fiore said the project would extend bauxite mining operations at Weipa for another 40 years, with the intention to start the three-year construction program next year and bauxite shipments to begin in 2016.
"The EIS comprehensively describes the potential social, economic and environmental impacts associated with the project and outlines how we can sustainably develop our existing bauxite resources while safeguarding the Cape and the Great Barrier Reef," he said.
"The project does not substantially change the number of ships traversing the Reef and the EIS shows that potential impacts on the environment can be managed.
"We have been mining bauxite on the Cape and shipping it safely through dedicated shipping lanes to Gladstone for almost half a century.
"The strict measures that are used for existing Weipa bauxite shipping activities, such as piloting for ships, would continue to be used for project-related shipping."
Mr Fiore said the project, approved by the Queensland Co-ordinator-General in May this year, would employ 950 people during the construction of new mining areas, new infrastructure, including beneficiation plants, a power station, warehouses, workshops, barge and ferry facilities, ship loading facilities and an access road.
During operations, staff would number between 550 to 1350, depending on production.
The company currently employs 1000 full-time staff, which includes 275 indigenous people.
Submissions on the EIS will be accepted until December 19. Go to riotintoalcan.com
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