Kalbar Operations released its long-awaited Environment Effects Statement (EES) for the Fingerboards Mineral Sands today (Thursday) after three years of technical investigations and community consultation, marking a significant milestone for the project.
The EES will be on public exhibition for a minimum of 40 business days – 10 more than usual following a Minister for Planning decision made in 2019.
The EES has been prepared by Kalbar, as directed by the Victorian Minister for Planning, and guided by a multi-agency Technical Reference Group.
The EES has involved more than 30 studies, all of which will be available to the public as part of the process.
The Fingerboards is considered to be one of the world’s most significant mineral sands resources, providing zircon, titanium minerals (rutile and ilmenite) and rare-earth minerals for use in technology, transport, renewables, medical, household and personal applications.
“This is a major milestone for the project and an opportunity for the community and stakeholders to review the scientific evidence and information and make submissions on the EES,” Kalbar chief executive officer, Jozsef Patarica, said.
“We have met the requirements for the EES studies and have asked for, and received a great deal of community feedback over the past three years.
“This project can bring many benefits to East Gippsland and the EES demonstrates the project can be delivered with appropriate management of environmental impacts.
“On behalf of Kalbar I would like to thank the community for their input during the process and also Kalbar employees who have made a significant contribution to delivering the EES for public exhibition.”
The EES documents are available on the Fingerboards Project website or by contacting Kalbar Operations.
The State Government says it is making sure the community has the opportunity to have its say on the project despite the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Community groups and residents can request their own copy in the absence of hard copy displays at public exhibition points.
“Despite the challenges the pandemic presents, it’s important the community can still access what they need to stay informed about the project and to make submissions,” Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, said.
“For any major project proposed it’s crucial we assess its environmental effects to avoid or minimise impacts on the community or the environment.
“Exhibition of this EES is an important step and we encourage community groups and residents to request their own copies of the EES and make their views known.”
The community and stakeholders will have the opportunity to make submissions on the EES as well as the works approval and draft planning scheme amendment, which will also be exhibited ahead of a public inquiry.
The government is providing $40,000 through the Community Advisor Grants program to support community involvement in the EES process for the Kalbar mine, which has been taken up by mine-opposing community group, Mine-free Glenaladale.
The proposed mining method involves open pit mining to extract approximately 170 million tonnes of ore over a projected mine life of 20 years.
The project area is approximately 1675 hectares and would establish two mining plants, a processing plant, water supply infrastructure, tailings storage and additional site facilities including an office, warehouse, workshop, loading facilities and fuel storage.
Along with the ongoing EES process, the project requires several other approvals before it can proceed including approvals under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, a mining licence and an approved work plan under the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990.
The project also requires a works approval under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and a cultural Heritage Management Plan under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 as well as approvals under the Water Act 1989 for extraction of surface and/or groundwater and permits to take native flora and fauna species listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.
IMAGE: The EES will be on public exhibition for a minimum of 40 business days – 10 more than usual due to COVID-19 restrictions. PICTURED: Kalbar Operations chief executive officer, Jozsef Patarica, with the EES. (PS)