The Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) has completed the environmental impact assessment of Northern Territory Mining Operations’ Union Reefs North Underground Mine and concluded it can proceed in an environmentally acceptable manner providing the recommendations made in Assessment Report 92 are implemented.
The report has been provided to the Northern Territory Minister for Environment and Natural Resources who will provide it to the Minister for Primary Industry and Resources for consideration in developing conditions and approvals under the Mining Management Act 2001.
Northern Territory Mining Operations proposes to conduct underground mining and on-site processing of gold ore over a period of two to three years. The activity is located within the Union Reefs Project Area, an existing mine site and processing facility about 175 km south-east of Darwin, a highly modified site subject to gold mining since 1873.
NT EPA Chairperson, Dr Paul Vogel, said the NT EPA identified potential impacts and risks to:
· local and regional ghost bat populations;
· surface water and groundwater quality due to contamination from mining wastes;
· hydrological regimes of both surface and groundwater from tailings storage and dewatering and;
· downstream aquatic ecosystems of the McKinlay River as a result of surface water and groundwater contamination and groundwater drawdown.
“The NT EPA has considered the proposal by Northern Territory Mining Operations to develop the Union Reefs North Underground Mine and made seven comprehensive recommendations to avoid or mitigate the impacts and risks associated with the proposal” Dr Vogel said.
“The NT EPA considers that, subject to the implementation of the seven recommendations in the Assessment Report and the commitments and safeguards listed by the Proponent in the EIS, the proposal can be implemented and managed in a manner that is likely to meet the NT EPA’s objectives and avoid significant or unacceptable environmental impacts and risks.”
“The NT EPA has recommended that the Pine Creek regional population of ghost bats should be protected from the mine’s impacts; preservation or improvement of the health of the McKinlay River; and public reporting of plans and reports relating to protection of ghost bats, water management and protection of downstream ecosystems.”
These recommendations are for decision-makers to consider in approval conditions for the proposed action and the Proponent to consider in undertaking the action.
To obtain a copy of the assessment report please visit ntepa.nt.gov.au/environmental-assessments/projects-completed