A new uranium mine in Western Australia’s Little Sandy Desert has been given conditional approval by the Environmental Protection Authority and is now open for public appeal.
EPA chairman Paul Vogel said the Kintyre Uranium Project had been thoroughly scrutinised during an environmental impact assessment.
“Following assurance from key regulatory agencies that the mine could be managed to protect human health, the EPA concluded that approval could be recommended subject to several conditions,” Dr Vogel said.
The Cameco Australia project would be located 270 kilometres north-east of Newman, in the East Pilbara, with an expected mine life of about 13.5 years.
The proposal includes the construction of infrastructure such as mineral processing facilities, offices, accommodation and the discharge of waste.
It also includes the upgrade and construction of 90km of access road for the transportation of uranium oxide concentrate to the West Australian/South Australian border on route to the Port of Adelaide.
Dr Vogel said the Radiological Council and the Department of Mines and Petroleum were responsible for ensuring radiation risks were managed during the mining, handling, packaging, storage and transportation of uranium oxide concentrate.
The Commonwealth is also responsible for the transportation, Dr Vogel said.
But the EPA has recommended conditions to ensure the project does not affect fauna including the bilby, mulgara and rock wallaby.
“The proponent will also need to assess and manage any potential radiological impacts to plants and animals through a risk assessment approach using Australia species information in accordance with best practice requirements,” Dr Vogel said.
The EPA has also provided advice about the rehabilitation and closure of the site.
The report to the Environment Minister is now open for a public appeal period, closing on August 11.
State and federal environment ministers will make decisions on the proposal under each of their legislations.