Mine. Environmental group Save the Tarkine has lodged an application in the Supreme Court seeking the release of what it calls ‘secret’ documents.
Campaign co-ordinator Scott Jordan said the documents relate to changes made to the environmental approval conditions for Shree Minerals’ Nelson Bay River mine near Temma.
“It should alarm Tasmanians that after being serenaded with the tune that these mines will be ‘world’s best practice’, what we see is an instant watering down of environmental controls,” Mr Jordan said on Wednesday.
The group is questioning the Environment Protection Authority for granting Shree permission to store acid producing waste above ground, in contravention of the original conditions, and against advice given in original assessment reports.
Mr Jordan said the EPA’s Environmental Assessment Report showed there was ‘no suitable location on the site for above ground storage’.
Also, ‘to manage the risk of Acid Mine Drainage during the operation of the mine and into the long-term, post closure, all PAF material must be stored in the DSO Pit, since this is considered to be the only secure, long-term storage option’.
Mr Jordan said despite this, the EPA revised the conditions to allow for above-ground storage, after Shree disclosed higher levels of acid producing waste than originally submitted in the environmental assessment documents.
According to John Mollison, the EPA director’s delegate, the notice issued allows for temporary storage only – restricted to 30 months, before the material must be returned to the pit and capped.
Mr Mollison said the permit variation, issued in November, responded to an analysis by the operator which suggested there may be more potentially acid forming material arising from the pit than earlier estimated.
“It showed that storage of such a volume of material within the pit during operations would require a larger pit and hence a larger disturbance area.”
The EPA concluded that under the conditions, temporary storage outside the pit would facilitate more efficient operation of the mine with less increase in disturbance.
One of the conditions is a limit on the amount of material to be stored above ground.
Shree must also provide a detailed three-monthly storage dump report to the EPA.
The matter will be heard on Tuesday March 4.