The Western Australian Government has introduced new rules to commence construction of mining projects in a staged manner in parallel with environmental assessments. It says that the changes will enable mining projects to be fast tracked.
Many large mining projects rely on infrastructure corridors to connect their mine to other processing sites or essential services.
These corridors can stretch up to hundreds of kilometres, and are used to build haul roads, power lines, pipelines and conveyor systems.
Mining companies were previously required to have all land access licences granted prior to lodging their environmental applications for approval. This meant that for long infrastructure, construction could not commence until land access was approved along the entire corridor.
The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety has implemented new changes to enable mining companies to commence construction in a staged manner along the corridors, and environmental assessments will be conducted while licences are still pending.
These changes will not affect environmental, safety or heritage standards, and construction cannot occur until the mining proposal is assessed and environmentally acceptable.
Fortescue Metals Group has already implemented these changes at its Eliwana iron ore mine (see note1), which celebrated first ore this week. The changes helped Fortescue fast-track its project to production, removed application duplication and reduced the wait time for various licences to be granted.
Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said that “The new rules have the potential to cut months off the construction timeline for companies, which is important for creating jobs for Western Australians and growing our economy.
“Environmental assessments of the whole mining infrastructure corridor will now only have to be conducted once, at the start of the project, rather than on multiple occasions.
Fortescue Metals Group is developing the Western Hub, which includes significant amounts of high iron content bedded iron ore and will be home to the Eliwana mine. Located 140km to the west of Solomon and due to be completed in December 2020, the Eliwana project includes 143km of rail and a 30mpta dry OPF. Eliwana will contribute to Fortescue’s core iron ore business as it underpins the ramp-up of 60.1% Fe West Pilbara Fines product. The operation will maintain low-cost status, providing greater flexibility to capitalise on market dynamics.
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