Vasse coal project process gets underway

AFTER months of controversy over possible coal mining near the Western Australian tourist town of Margaret River, Vasse coal project operator LD Operations has submitted initial documents to WA’s Environmental Protection Authority.

Blair Price

The paperwork will allow the EPA to set the level of environmental assessment required for the underground coal mine at Osmington and an associated wash plant at North Capel.

LDO managing director Peter Ross said a scoping document could be developed once the level of assessment is determined.

The company plans to undertake a social impact assessment as part of its bid to win environmental approval.

“The SIA will examine the implications of the proposed Vasse Coal Project for the community in Margaret River and surrounding areas, as well as broader socio-economic implications, with a view to identifying priority risks and opportunities over and above the statutory requirements of the environmental impact assessment,” he said.

“Both activities are in the very early stages of a long and comprehensive process; there is a lot of work to be done to develop a research base for detailed environmental impact assessment and to allow the EPA to make an informed decision.”

Ultimately LDO aims to minimise possible impacts to the region, and Ross added that extensive mitigating measures would be proposed to make the project among the “least intrusive mining operations in Australia”

“The Vasse coal project will be assessed under the rigours of Part IV of the Environmental Protection Act to ensure it can be implemented in a safe and environmentally and socially responsible manner,” he said.

“We are committed to due process and are undertaking robust scientific and socio-economic research to support our application.”

The proposed mine will target the Osmington seam of the Sue coal measures, and will need approvals to source water, transport the raw coal to a planned wash plant by road and to “transport” the product thermal coal either domestically or for export.

Up to 225 operational jobs and up to 800 indirect jobs are expected to be created, according to Ross.

The mine developer also seeks a partner to assist with its plans to upgrade community infrastructure.

“We will actively seek to be a long-term partner in the community through major project-associated local infrastructure upgrades and involvement in community-based programs,” he said.

“We look forward to working with the community to establish clear social and environmental outcomes for this project.”

Contractor LD Operations is managing the Vasse coal project near Margaret River on behalf of its private owners, AMCI (70%) and Core Resources (30%).

Celebrity chef of Consuming Passions fame, Ian Parmenter is leading the residents’ activist group against the project, NO COAL!tion Margaret River.

Parmenter said the proposed site of the project was less than 2 kilometres from the river.

Bunbury-based Strategen Environmental Consultants has been commissioned to assist with the environmental assessment process for the project.

The draft underground mining plan is looking at a target production rate of 1.2 million tonnes per annum for a mine life of 20 years.

The Vasse project conservatively has resources of at least 116Mt, according to data provided by Intierra.

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