The hearing into the proposed Fingerboards Mineral Sand Mine at Glenaladale has been adjourned to May 3 following a directions hearing yesterday.
An Inquiry and Advisory Committee was due to commence hearing the matter on Monday but it was adjourned, due to procedural fairness, because of new information presented by Kalbar.
In documents submitted by the mining proponent, Kalbar, into the environmental effects of the proposed mine, Kalbar admitted to making an error in the amount of water it would need for its mine project.
New information submitted late in the proceedings, to address the error, revealed that Kalbar Operations would require five billion litres of water annually for the projected 20- year life of the mine, not three billion as reported in its Environmental Effects Statement (EES).
Mine Free Glenaladale requested the adjournment, which was supported by the East Gippsland
Shire Council, to address the new information presented by Kalbar.
The adjournment is expected to cost all parties privy to the hearings more in legal costs.
A spokesperson for Mine Free Glenaladale, Debbie Carruthers, told the Advertiser: “The community is now having to pay the price because Kalbar waited until the hearing was about to start to admit their major mistake.”
“We now have to engage and brief a new barrister,” Ms Carruthers said, indicating that not all legal representatives will be available for the new hearing date in May.
“We also have to find a lot more money to pay for extra expert witnesses to respond to the impacts of these changes,” Ms Carruthers said.
“If the scientific reports in the EES had been as rigorous as the community was repeatedly told, this would never have happened, and furthermore, if Kalbar had admitted their mistakes earlier the community wouldn’t have to pay these costs.”
In its bid to gain approval for the Fingerboards Mineral Sands Mine project, over four years ago, Kalbar was required by the Victorian Government to prepare an EES. Last September, an EES document totalling 11,163 pages was released for public submissions. Individuals, community groups and government agencies were given 40 business days to submit their response.
An Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) was appointed by the Victorian Government to convene a hearing and make recommendations to the Minister for Planning about the mine proposal’s EES.
In a statement to the Advertiser yesterday, the chief executive officer of Kalbar Operations, Jozsef Patarica, said: “Kalbar Operations continues to follow due process set by the Victorian State Government and respects the panel inquiry.” “Kalbar remains focused on completing the EES process and meeting all regulatory requirements associated with the development of the Fingerboards mineral sands project,” Mr Patarica said.
Ms Carruthers said: “If the (State) Minister for Planning had come here and seen the area where the mine is proposed, he would realise this is the wrong place for a mine which would have saved a lot of time, money and angst in the community.”