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Beverley environmental assessment.



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Media Release

Senator the Hon Robert Hill

Leader of the Government in the Senate

Minister for the Environment and Heritage

 

 

Beverley Environmental Assessment

 

The Federal Environment Minister, Senator Robert Hill, has decided that there is no environme ntal reason which would prevent the granting of Commonwealth approvals for the Beverley uranium mine.

 

Senator Hill has, however, recommended that before final Commonwealth approvals are given there should be some further testing of the boundaries of the water body to satisfy the Commonwealth that a hydraulic connection does not exist between the Beverley aquifer and other surrounding ground water.

 

All drilling and testing to date has indicated that the Beverley aquifer is both laterally and vertically confined. Nevertheless, on the basis of expert advice and because the Australian Government is committed to the highest standard of environmental protection, some further tests have been requested.

 

These tests should be able to be completed within a few months and should not delay the development.

 

In fact, the complete isolation of the aquifer makes this project uniquely suited to the in-situ leaching technology. Although this technology is new in Australia its utilisation in the United States is not uncommon. There exists a wealth of international experience upon which the approvals can be confidently given. In addition, the project will be subject to a comprehensive and ongoing monitoring regime.

 

The Beverley mine will be great economic news for South Australia. The proponent, Heathgate Resources Pty Ltd, estimates that the project will, when fully operational, create nearly 400 jobs. The mine is expected to have a life of at least 15 years.

 

Heathgate has reached agreements with four Aboriginal groups who have lodged native title claims over the Beverley area. Under these agreements, Heathgate estimates that royalty and other payments of over $1 million a year will be paid for at least 15 years.

 

Commercial production is expected to commence in 2000.

 

Media contact - Matt Brown on 0419 693 515

 

Beverley Recommendations

 

1. Subject to compliance by the proponent with recommendation 2, the Beverley project is environmentally acceptable and there is no environmental reason which would prevent the granting of Co mmonwealth approvals.

 

2. Before Commonwealth approvals are granted, the proponent must, to the satisfaction of the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage (the Environment Minister):

 

a) confirm that an hydraulic connection does not exist b etween the Beverley aquifer and other surrounding ground water; or

 

b) modify the project so that the waste stream is not injected into the Beverley aquifer and an environmentally acceptable alternative option for managing and disposing of the waste stream is to be adopted.

 

3. Commonwealth Ministers or authorities should, when deciding whether to grant any relevant Commonwealth approval, implement any additional recommendations of the Environment Minister arising from the consideration of matters under rec ommendation 2.

 

4. Any Commonwealth approval should be granted subject to the following conditions:

 

a) The proponent must comply with all requirements relating to the protection of the environment imposed under State legislation.

 

b) The proponent must co mply with the recommendations included at Attachment A ('the SA recommendations').

 

c) The proponent must, to the satisfaction of the Commonwealth and the State, repair any significant environmental damage not identified in the Environmental Impact Stateme nt (including the Supplement to the EIS) and which is caused by implementation of the project. If the proponent fails to repair such damage, the Commonwealth may repair the damage and recover the cost of doing so from the company.

 

d) The proponent must pr epare an Environmental Management and Monitoring Plan (EMMP), as described in section 12.2 of the draft EIS. The EMMP may be prepared in stages provided each stage is approved by the South Australian government prior to implementation. The EMMP is to include inter alia:

 

  1. details of the numbers and locations of monitoring bores to detect excursion of leachate;

 

ii) a description of corrective action to be taken before leachate could exit from the active mining zone;

 

iii) the procedures that will confirm that there is no c ontamination of the overlying aquifers;

 

iv) the chemical criteria for detecting excursions, as agreed between the company and the appropriate authority;

 

v) a description of an on-going survey program for monitoring the impact of mining on native biologic al communities and for measurement of the success of rehabilitation;

 

vi) an Emergency Plan dealing with the transport of hazardous materials in relation to the project; and

 

vii) details of an environmental auditing process.

 

The proponent must implement the EMMP.

 

e) The proponent must participate in, and provide information to, the environmental monitoring committee for the Beverley mine, including the EMMP and annual environmental reports. The EMMP and the annual environment reports must also be release d to the public.

 

f) The proponent may implement a significant change to the scope of the mine plan or operating process (for example, by utilising the solvent extraction process for uranium recovery) only with the agreement of the Commonwealth.

 

 

 

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