NT EPA Chairman, Dr Paul Vogel, said the NT EPA identified potentially significant environmental impacts and risks associated with the Mount Peake Project and made 20 recommendations to avoid and mitigate those potential impacts and risks.
The proposal is to construct and operate the Mount Peake Project, a polymetallic (titanium, vanadium, iron) mine, located approximately 235 km north-northwest of Alice Springs. The proposal includes an open pit mine site, borefield, accommodation village and ore concentrate load-out facility, linked by access roads and service corridors.
The expected mine life is 19 years including two years construction and two years closure and rehabilitation. The mine’s construction workforce will peak at 225 with an ongoing operations workforce of 170.
The refining of the ore concentrate is proposed to occur at a refinery to be located in Darwin and is the subject of a separate environmental impact assessment.
The NT EPA’s key recommendations focus on ensuring leading practice in the management of groundwater resources, inland water environmental quality, terrestrial flora and fauna, and social, economic and cultural surroundings so as to provide a high level of confidence that the proposal will meet the NT EPA’s environmental objectives.
The NT EPA paid particular attention to potential for impacts on groundwater resources and associated environmental values in an arid zone of the NT where the Project is located.
Furthermore, the impact assessment process resulted in the Proponent identifying alternative approaches and technologies to avoid and minimise environmental impacts, e.g. a significant reduction in the proposed overall Project disturbance footprint and water usage.
The NT EPA has acknowledged that Aboriginal knowledge and protection of natural values important to Aboriginal people is an important consideration by recommending that the Proponent define and implement a suitable haul/access road alignment to minimise the direct impact on the culturally important giant sweet potato Ipomoea polpha subsp. latzii,within the Project area.
“The NT EPA considers that, subject to the implementation of all recommendations, the Project can be managed in a manner that is likely to meet the NT EPA’s objectives and avoid significant or unacceptable environmental impacts and risks,” Dr Vogel said.
To ensure best practice closure and rehabilitation, the NT EPA considers the Project should effectively integrate mine closure planning with mine operational planning and that progressive rehabilitation should be undertaken during Project operations.
The intent of mine closure is to rehabilitate the land to an agreed post-mining land use, with safe, stable and non-polluting landforms that enable potential future uses of the site.
The NT EPA considers that while uncertainty remains around the potential for significant environmental impacts over the life of the Project, it emphasises the need for updated baseline and site-specific monitoring information to inform appropriate adaptive management responses.
The NT EPA has provided its assessment report to the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, Lauren Moss, for consideration.