Iluka’s proposed Tutunup Sands Mineral Project involves mineral sands mining, including the development of mine pits, processing plant, dams for water and clay fines management, material stockpiles and associated supporting infrastructure. Up to 4.02 gigalitres of water would be required to support the proposal. Heayy mineral concentrate would be transported for further processing at the Capel mine site. The proposal is located within a 653 hectare (ha) development envelope and may require the clearing of up to 142 ha of native vegetation.
The proposal was recently referred to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which opened up a seven day comment period. SWCC’s response submitted to the EPA is outlined below:
The proposed project area either includes or is very close to a number of sites containing listed threatened or priority ecological communities, including shrublands on southern Swan Coastal Plain Ironstones (Busselton area), Eucalyptus haematoxylon – E. marginata woodlands on Whicher foothills and Whicher Scarp Jarrah woodland of deep coloured sands.
The project site appears to border the Ruabon-Tutunup corridor, which is a TEC and on which SWCC and others (Geocatch, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions) have spent millions trying to save the TEC over the years.
While the project footprint may be able to be refined to avoid the clearing of these Threatened Ecological Communities (TECs), the extraction of groundwater required for the mining operations will certainly have significant impacts on these ecosystems. Given the planned 5-8 year lifetime of the mining operations, this extended period of groundwater extraction will likely cause permanent damage to these TECs.
In addition, the current road is narrow and will require significant widening to accommodate the additional heavy haulage trucks that would be using the Ruabon and Tutunup roads. This will almost definitely have significant negative impacts on this TEC and the two reserves, given the extremely narrow nature of the Ruabanon-Tutunup TEC that runs alongside the road.
SWCC requested that the EPA assess the project with a public environmental review.