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straregic government review mid west

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    STRATEGIC REVIEW OF THE BANDED
    IRON FORMATION RANGES OF THE
    MIDWEST AND GOLDFIELDS
    This review consists of:
    Executive Summary and Actions Arising, Endorsed by
    Government.
    DEC report ’Banded Ironstone Formation Ranges of the Midwest
    and Goldfields - Interim Status Report - Biodlversity Values
    and Conservation Requirements’
    ¯ DolR report ’Strategic Review of an Iron Ore Industry In the
    Yilgarn Region (With Focus on the Midwest)’
    Department of
    Environment and Conservation
    Our environment, our future ~
    ~_. Department of
    ~’~ Industry and Resources
    STRATEGIC REVIEW OF THE BANDED IRON FORWIATION
    RANGES OF THE MIDWEST AND GOLDFIELDS
    2
    World demand for iron ore is forecast to increase
    significantly in the next decade, prompting the Pilbara
    based BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto to announce,
    separately, plans to raise capacity to over 300 million
    tonnes per annum (Mtpa) each and FMG to 60 Mtpa.
    Chinese demand in particular has encouraged smaller
    companies to explore for new sources of iron ore,
    such as the Banded Iron Formation (BIF) ranges in the
    Midwest Region.
    Since 2002 the Environmental Protection Authority
    (EPA) has completed formal assessments on three
    BIF mining proposals in the region and is currently
    assessing another three. There are, in addition, a
    further three at the feasiblity stage of evaluation and
    some 25 prospects under exploration.
    With the large number of mining proposals in the
    region, the EPA and government face an increasing and
    difficult challenge in addressing cumulative impacts
    and in balancing the economic, social and regional
    development benefits, against high conservation
    values.
    The significant biodiversity values identified on the BIF
    ranges require measures to protect representative
    areas and species and ecosystems that are restricted
    to the ranges, consistent with State, natioaal
    and international commitments on biodiversity
    conservation. However, the high biodiversity values
    and conservation requirements and the possible
    uniqueness of each of the ranges in the Midwest,
    if assessed individually, have the potential to
    preclude, or severely curtail as to render unviable,
    mining of millions of tonnes of iron ore. Alternatively,
    the broadscale mining of BIF ranges would have a
    significant detrimental effect on biodiversity values,
    particularly in respect of species and ecosystems
    restricted to those ranges.
    Under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, the EPA
    is limited to assessing only the environmental aspects
    of proposals placed before it and, traditionally, such
    proposals are assessed on a project by project basis.
    Any assessment, strategic or otherwise, based on
    wider principles of sustainability or the "triple bottom
    line" of environmental, economic and social costs
    and benefits, is the role of government. Similarly,
    environmental matters beyond the impact of the
    project are outside of the Part IV project environmental
    assessment process.
    This Strategic Review of the biodiversity values and iron
    ore prospectivity in the Midwest and Goldfields (within
    the Yilgarn Craton) was undertaken to provide an
    additional level of information to government to allow
    for a more strategic approach to resource utlisation
    and biodiversity conservation decision making. The
    region covered in the review is shown in Figures 1 and 2.
    Integrated Results
    The BIF ranges are of very significant biodiversity value
    as a consequence of their unique geology, soils and
    relative isolation. The value of the ranges relate to the
    presence of endemic plant species, rare and restricted
    plant species and highly restricted and distinct plant
    communities and ecological communities. The ranges
    are also very distinct features in the regional landscape
    and in many cases possess outstanding landscape
    values. They also have fauna conservation values
    although these are less well documented than for flora.
    Indigenous heritage values of BIF ranges are not
    addressed in this review.
    Implications for Economic, Social and
    Regional Development
    Iron ore production in the region is at an early stage
    in its development, but is being shown to have very
    significant potential for the economic development
    and growth of the region and State overall. In addition
    to Portman’s Koolyanobbing operation in the centra!
    Yilgam, five significant projects have thus far been
    identified in the Midwest region that could amount to
    a combined investment of around $7 billion. A further
    three ’starter’ projects have come into production in
    the last few years.
    in-ground resource value thus far defined is between
    $45 billion and $75 billion dependent on price
    forecasts If these major projects were developed to
    their planned first phase of capacity, they could result
    in export revenues of $3,6 billion to $5.3 billion per
    annum with direct revenues to the State Government
    in the order of $225 million to $330 million per annum
    in royalties alone, plus payroll tax and other indirect
    returns through taxation income,
    See separate file - Figure 1. Banded Iron Formation occurrence in relation to Iron Ore
    mining tenements and Conservation estate in the Midwest and Goldfields
    See separate file – Mid West Region potential iron ore industry development.
    Iron ore trade already makes up 34% of cargo volume
    through Geraldton port. As a result of committed
    iron ore development plans, port capacity is being
    significantly expended and there are plans for this
    to expand even further, However it is the triggering
    of the Oakajee port which is likely to have most
    impact for industrial development in the Midwest, The
    port development would provide the catalyst for the
    establishment of the Oakajee Industrial Estate. Not
    only is there the potential for iron ore based added
    value projects, but other heaw industrial projects,
    Some "starter" or short lived stage 1 developments
    are proceeding, in many cases to provide the cash
    flow to fund a full scale, stage 2 development. It
    is the stage 2 projects which could bring the longer
    term benefits over a 20-30 year period. In addition
    to Mt Gibson, the other four major projects thus far
    identified in the Midwest region (Mt Karara Magnetite,
    Jack Hills Stage 2, Weld Range and Koolanooka
    Magnetite) as well as the Mungada Hematite are
    expected to be formally progressed through the
    environmental approvals process over the next 12
    to 18 months. Triggering of the assessments of the
    major infrastructure development of the railway and
    Oakajee port should also be forthcoming in this
    period.
    Major overseas companies are actively participating
    in and largely underwriting each of the significant
    developments and they are expressing frustration
    with time delays in accessing land, the slow speed of
    project development and the overall lack of certainty
    now emerging. A project-by-project assessment
    does not allow effective policies or strategies to
    be pursued, Given that major international owned
    enterprises are involved in the region’s iron ore
    projects, an adverse "unanticipated" outcome for
    the more significant projects could impact on WA’s
    - international business relationships. A number
    of major international companies could review their
    future investment in WA if the "rules of engagement"
    are not clarified upfront.
    A clear statement of Government’s policy position in
    respect to access to the BIF ranges for development
    is required to give confidence, on the one hand, that
    the significant sums being expended in exploration
    and feasibiliLy studies are worthwhile and the major
    financing arrangements currently being put in place
    can be brought to l~ruition through major project
    developments, and on the other hand, that the
    significant conservation values of BIF ranges will be
    adequately protected.
    Decisions on the most advanced projects at Mt
    Karara/Mungeda need to be made in the overall
    context of policies for all of the BIF ranges as they
    will create precedents and impact on the level of
    confidence for companies in being able to develop
    a significant sustainable iron ore industry in the
    Midwest. It needs Lo be noted, based on information
    that is currently available, that there ere differences
    between the various BIF ranges in terms of their
    biodiversiLy conservation and mineral prospectivity/
    resource values.
    Implications for Conservation
    There is a strong case for conserving the unique end
    irreplaceable biodiversiLy values of the BIF ranges
    in siLu within intact ecosystems. It is clear that the
    current approach to mining the BIF ranges has the
    potential to result in loss of unique communities
    and reduction [n the populations of restricted
    plant species to the point where they will be under
    significantly increased threat of extinction in the
    wild. There is no clear understanding of the level of
    loss that can be sustained on the identified range
    communities without compromising the sustainability
    of the local ecosystems and their component species.
    The ranges are also very distinct features in the
    regional landscape and in many cases possess
    outstanding landscape values, Examples ofthe BIF
    landscapes need to be retained, both partially and in
    their entire~, for protection of their unique landscape
    and geodiversiLy values and for their tourism potential.
    Unless appropriate guidance is in place there is a
    very high probability that, over time, none of the
    most outstanding range systems and very few of
    the remainder will be preserved intact. At present,
    of the 28 BIF ranges discussed in the review, two
    are in conservation parks and three are in former
    pastoral leases purchased for conservation but not
    yet reserved. None are in national parks or Class
    A nature reserves which offer the highest level of
    conservation security and protection from mining (i.e.
    Parliamentary approval required)
    5
    6
    Expansion of the conservation reserve system in
    relation to BIF ranges will be required where high
    biodiversib~ values are designated for protection as
    a consequence of the formal project assessment
    process, or following further consideration of the
    Environmental Protection Act 1986 Section 16 (e)
    advice on the Mt Manning area or through reservation
    of pastoral lands already purchased for conservation
    or as an outcome of Government’s consideration of
    this review. In this regard, if consideration was given
    to reservation as class A nature reserve or national
    park of BIF ranges identified as having the most
    significant biodiversity conservation values (eg the
    Helena-Aurora Range and the Mt Karara/Mungada/
    Blue Hills system) would provide a strong indication of
    recognition of the ranges’ values.
    Reservation of some of these most outstanding
    ranges would have potential implications for some
    sections of the iron ore industry.
    Conservation and Industry Development
    On currenL floristic information, Jack Hills and Weld
    Range have fewer environmental obstacles and should
    be able to proceed to development with minimal
    constraint and support the development of Oakajee
    Port. Both these ranges are quite extensive, and
    portions of them should be conserved in line with
    biodiversity conservation principles when the values
    are more precisely defined.
    The south-west cluster of ranges (ie Karara/Mungada/
    Blue Hills, Mt Gibson, Koolanooka) present significant
    environmental impact assessment challenges
    because of their biodiversity richness. The Karara/
    Mungada/Blue Hills range system represents the
    most outstanding of these ranges and is worthy of
    full protection, however, development planning and
    environmental assessment of Karara/Mungada/Blue
    Hills is well advanced. Creation of a reserve category
    such as natiosal park or Class A nature reserve
    over the entirety of this area at this stage would be
    inappropriate (notwithstanding that existing tenements
    would be honoured).
    It will be important that mining approvals in these
    areas are coupled with conservation outcomes for
    appropriate parts of these ranges, as an outcome
    of the environmental process. In regard to the
    partly mined Koolanooka Range, the remainder of
    this range is also worthy of full protection and may
    face significant environmental impact assessment
    challenges. The Koolanooka Ranges have two very
    significant magnetite deposits within their boundary.
    In the south-east cluster (Mt Manning area), the
    Helena-Aurora Range is of the highest biodivers]ty
    significance and is at the exploration stage. Given
    the less advanced development planning and high
    biodiversib/value, reservation as national park or
    Class A nature reserve could be considered (as
    recommended in EPA Bulletin No. 1256 ’Advice
    on Areas of the Highest Conservation Value in the
    Proposed Extensions to Mount Manning Nature
    Reserve’ (May 2007), The Bungalbin East area, is
    the focus of one exploration company’s interest and
    any decision on this area in regard to Class A nature
    reserve should be deferred until further prospectivity
    information is available.
    Based on current levels of knowledge Table 1 outlines
    the intersection between biodiversity and prospectivity
    values. Further biodiversity information will be
    gathered as a consequence of proponent surveys and
    DEC funded surveys and accordingly information may
    come forward that will have further implications for
    projects and for the outcomes of EPA assessments.
    Similarly, exploration is an ongoing process which may
    result in other ranges being identified as having high
    prospectivity and a clearer definition within ranges of
    areas of resource significance.
    intersection between biodiversity and prospectivity values
    Lowest * Highest***
    Note: These ratings are purely relative and the lowest rating does not imply that biodiversity or prospactivity values in
    any individual range are of no significance.
    Range System
    Jack Hills
    Weld Range
    Koolanooka
    Mt Karara
    Mungada/Blue Hills
    Mt Gibson
    Helena & Aurora
    (including Bungalbin East)
    Dieresis / Die Hardy Range
    Mt Manning
    Mt Jackson Range
    Koolyanobbing Range
    Windariing Range
    Mayfield
    Minjar/Gnows Nest
    Mt Dimer
    Ta[lering Peak
    Warriedar/Pinyalling
    Booylgoo Range
    Bulga Downs
    Cashmere Downs
    Gullewa/Wolla Wo]la
    Lake Giles
    Lake Austin
    New Forest (inc Twin Peaks)
    Perrinvale/Waliing Range
    Robinson Range
    Wiluna West
    Yalgoo
    Stage
    Stage 1 mining.
    Partconservation
    Exploration.
    Part conservation
    Partly mined.
    Scope far conservation
    Advanced mine planning
    Advanced mine planning
    Extension Hill approved
    Early exploration
    Early exploration
    Exploration
    Partly mined
    Extensive mining.
    Most conservation
    potential lost
    Partly mined,
    Significant impacts
    Exploration
    Exploration
    Exploration
    Partly mined
    F~pioration
    Exploration
    ?
    Exploration
    ?
    Exploration
    Exploration
    Exploration
    Exploration/preFS
    Expioration/preFS
    Biodivereity
    ?- Further investigation/exploration required. Limited information to date
    Prospectivity
    ?
    ?
    ?
    ?
    ?
    8
    There are significant biodiversity and mineral resource
    values in the banded ironstone ranges of the Midwest
    and Goldfields but that for many individual ranges, the
    mineral prospectivity is little or only partly defined and
    the knowledge of conservation values is not complete
    in beth a detailed and regional context.
    Under present known conditions, the current mining
    operations largely underpinning the economic and
    employment base of the Midwest, appear to have a
    limited foreseeable life.
    The establishment of a significant iron ore industry in
    the Midwest would deliver substantial economic and
    social benefits to the Midwest Region and the State.
    Without an appropriate framework for decision making,
    State commitments to biodiversity conservation will
    become increasingly difficult to meet in regard to
    banded iron ranges and the environmental approval
    process for developers will become increasingly
    problematic.
    "fhe development of substantial iron ore mines in the
    Jack Hills and Weld Range would be needed for the
    establishment of the Oakajee Port and associated
    infrastructure and this should be achievable in the
    light of current knowledge of biodiversity values (these
    ranges are quite extensive and that an adequate
    level of conservation of values can also be achieved
    taking into account the key principles. The Mt Karara,
    Mungada/Blue Hills and Koolanooka projects are
    likely to sustain the economic viability of Oakajee.
    The BIF ranges located within the ’south west’ cluster
    (i.e. Mt Karara/Blue Hills/Mungada, Mt Gibson and
    Koolanooka) have very high biodiversity conservation
    values, as well as advanced highly prospective project
    development proposals and strategic interests in
    regional development terms. Proposals relating to
    the Mt Karate, Mungada and Blue Hills range system
    are currently in the Environmental Protection Act 1986
    assessment process and Government will need to
    consider the economic and social benefits in the final
    decision-making process. The Mt Gibson Ranges have
    been the subject of a recent Ministerial decision with
    respect to development and conservation.
    The BIF ranges located within the ’south east’ cluster
    (Mr Manning Area) (i.e. Helena-Aurora, Mt Manning, Mt
    Jackson, Mt Windarling, Diemals/Die Hardy Ranges
    end Koolyanobbing Range) are still insufficiently
    explored to adequately assess prospectivity but have
    been the subject of EPA Bulletin No. 1256 ’Advice
    on Areas of the Highest Conservation Value in the
    Proposed Extensions to Mount Manning Nature
    Reserve’ (May 2007) which identifies very high
    conservation values.
    ACTIONS ARISING
    As a result of this Strategic Review, Government
    will provide the confidence for mining, investment,
    community and conservation interests by
    demonstrating its support for the establishment of an
    environmentally acceptable long term iron ore industry
    base in the region by endorsing a framework that:
    ¯ commits to sustainable economic, social
    and environmental outcomes in respect to
    development proposals and conservation needs in
    the banded iron ranges;
    ¯ provides for reservation as Class A conservation
    reserves (i.e. national parks, nature reserves or
    conservation parks) over appropriate areas of
    banded iron ranges;
    provides clear indications that the Government is
    pre-disposed to the development of key strategic
    iron ore resources needed to underwrite and
    sustain the proposed Oakajee Port and related
    infrastructure;
    ¯ provides guidance to the EPA and decision making
    authorities for the remaining ranges, including
    the objective of achieving appropriate conservation
    outcomes in high conservation value Midwest
    Ranges currently undergoing assessment.
    ¯ provides adequate opportunity for further
    evaluation of prospectivity and conservation
    values to allow for informed decisions on land use.
    Consistent with this framework the Government:
    (i) commits to the creation of Class A nature
    reserves or national parks over the Helena-
    Aurora Range, Die Hardy Range and Mt Manning
    Range (as generally recommended in Bulletin
    No 1256), with an indicated pre-disposition
    against development of these ranges,
    (ii) indicates its predisposition towards
    develofiment over areas of
    Jack Hills
    Weld Range
    Ta]ledng Peak
    Ya[goo
    Wiluna West
    where substantial iron ore resources are identified
    and are required to sustain a long term mining
    industry while also providing for an adequate level of
    conservation of their biodiversity values,
    (iii) indicates a predisposition that in the interests
    of sustainable economic development in
    the highly biodiverse Karara/Mungada Blue
    Hills area, to allow the development of the
    identified magnetite resource in the south west
    section of the range but the Government is not
    predisposed to the extraction of the hematite
    deposits of the area.
    (iv) further considers both the economic and
    biodiversity values present in the Koolanooka
    Hills when projects in this area come forward
    for assessment
    (v) indicates its intention to place the
    Booylgoo
    Bulga Downs
    Cashmere Downs
    Perrinvale
    Walling
    Warriedar/Pinyalling
    Wo!la Wolla
    Lake Austin
    Bungalbin East
    ranges into an appropriate reserve status (e.g.
    conservation park or nature reserve not of Class
    A) that will facilitate ongoing assessment of both
    biodiversity and prospectivity with a view to reviewing
    that status in 3 years in light of increased knowledge
    at the appropriate time.
    (vi) agrees that an updated strategic review of
    available information on biod[versity and
    mineral resource values in three years will
    make more specific recommendations for
    conservation reserves across the remaining
    BIF ranges in the Midwest and Goldfields regioas.
    with development proposal in these areas put
    forward in the interim to be considered on a case
    by case basis as required and with reference to
    the key principles,
    Further, the Government will draw to the EPA’s
    attention the Government’s predisposition, as set
    out above, that exploitation of appropriate iron ore
    resources should be carried out sustainably by
    ensuring that critical thresholds for conservation
    of biodiversity are recognised in the consideration
    of development proposals and that best practise
    environmental management and mitigation
    programmes are committed to by developers.
    The following conservation principles and guidance
    should be taken into account in environmental
    assessments and the provision of advice to Government:
    Principles
    (i) No development activity to proceed in the
    Yilgarn Craton BIFs that would result in the
    IUCN Threat Category of any given plant or
    animal taxon increasing ie. initially not being
    listed as threatened under any category
    to being listed (the three IUCN categories
    for threatened species being Vulnerable,
    Endangered and Critically Endangered), or
    increasing from Vulnerable to Endangered, or
    from Endangered to Critically Endangered.
    (ii) No development activity to proceed in the
    Yilgarn Craton BIFs that would result in
    the IUCN Threat Category of any ecological
    community increasing from not being listed as
    threatened under any category to being listed,
    or where already listed (or qualifying for listing)
    as a TEC, having its actual or recommended
    Threat Category increased (i.e. from Vulnerable
    to Endangered or from Endangered to Critically
    Endangered).
    (ill) 15% - 30% of the total number of ranges
    should be reserved in their entirety, protecting
    complete examples of the landform and
    ecosystem. Examples of the most outstanding
    BIF ranges should be protected in their entirety
    where development has not significantly
    progressed, e.g. the Helena&urora Range
    (consistent with recommendations in EPA
    Bulletin 1256). The initial objective should be
    to conserve 15% of ranges in their entirety.
    The DEC has completed 2 years of a 3 year
    flora survey program, and, when completed, a
    review should be undertaken to further define
    the list of ranges requiring reservation in their
    entirety, with the objective of achieving at least
    the 30% target.
    10
    Guidance
    (iv) Conservation reserves should include at
    least 60% of largely contiguous ecosystem/
    habitat for each of the key banded ironstone
    species and ecological communities which are
    restricted to the BIF ranges.
    (v) Subject to key conservation principles i and
    ii, identified above, an objective of detailed
    mine-site planning and assessment should be
    to maximize the protected area of any floristic
    community identified by detailed flora survey to
    be restricted to the BIF, or dependent on the
    BIF for its conservation. This would indicate
    that no development should occur in those
    floristic communities that are likely to be
    significant for the maintenance of long term
    viability of threatened species and threatened
    ecological communities
    (vi) Landscape, geodiversity, Aboriginal Heritage
    values and potential for nature based tourism
    should be taken into account in developing
    a reserve system. State, National and
    International assessment methodologies and
    criteria should be used for identifying areas of
    significant landscape, geodiversity, Aboriginal
    Heritage values and tourism potential for
    protection.
    To support this work the Government will fund, in
    collaboration witll industry, the completion of a
    major programme to fully define the overall regional
    conservation values and notes that industry is and
    will continue research into the mitigation of impacts
    and rehabilitation.
    NOTE: Nothing in these undertakings derogates from
    the operation of the Environmental Protection Act
    1986 and consideration of proposals by the EPA.
 
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