Northern Territory Minister for Primary Industries, Paul Kirby, has approved an amendment to the existing mine management plan (MMP) for the McArthur River Mine, creating a pathway for the implementation of all 30 recommendations made by the NT Environment Protection Authority (NTEPA).
The McArthur River Mine is one of the world’s largest zinc, lead and silver mines and is currently operated by McArthur River Mining, a subsidiary of Glencore.
The mine is situated approximately 70 kilometres southwest of Borroloola in the Northern Territory and has been operating since 1993.
In August 2018, the NTEPA completed a rigorous environmental impact assessment of the company’s Overburden Management Project (OMP) at the McArthur River Mine and concluded that it could be managed to avoid unacceptable environmental impacts and risks.
In this report, the NTEPA outlined that the McArthur River is in good condition and that maintaining river health must be the central focus for all future stages of the mine.
Following additional recent approval from the Commonwealth Government, today’s approval means that the McArthur River Mine is now authorised to begin works related to the OMP under strict regulatory conditions.
The Federal and Territory Government approvals are expected to result in improved mine management and long-term encapsulation of reactive waste rock, and include mandating that further studies and extensive monitoring programs are required to be implemented.
Works that can take place under this approved amendment include:
- The development of the Northern Overburden Emplacement Facility (NOEF) and waste rock placement in two sections of the NOEF consistent with the OMP methodologies;
- The commencement of trials for the NOEF cover system to inform optimum waste encapsulation strategy;
- NOEF floodproofing works;
- The Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) Cell 2 lift and reuse of TSF Cell 1 for tailings deposition and construction of TSF seepage interception system; and
- Targeted geological, hydrological and engineering site investigation works.
Minister Kirby said the Territory Government listened to the advice of the NTEPA, and has created a pathway for the implementation of all 30 recommendations made in its assessment report.
“Ongoing development of the mining industry in the Northern Territory is important,” he said.
“Our Government expects it to be done in a sustainable and responsible manner, maximising economic benefits while focusing on minimising environmental impact.”