The Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has recommended Covalent Lithium Pty Ltd’s Earl Grey Lithium Project to go ahead.
Covalent Lithium (a Kidman Resources and SQM Joint Venture company) proposes to develop a pegmatite-hosted lithium deposit at the abandoned Mt Holland mine site, which is located approximately 105 kilometres south-south-east of Southern Cross, in the Shire of Yilgarn.
The proposal is for conventional open-cut mining of the existing Earl Grey pit and development of associated mine infrastructure.
The new mining proposal would utilise some existing infrastructure and disturbed areas. The mining proposal involves disturbance of 660 hectares (ha) of land, including new clearing of up to 392 ha of native vegetation, which is the habitat for significant fauna species.
Two threatened fauna species (Malleefowl and Chuditch) and one threatened flora species (Banksia sphaerocarpa var. dolichostyla) – all listed as Vulnerable at the Commonwealth and State level – are known to be located within the proposed development envelope.
EPA Chair, Dr Tom Hatton, said the EPA found the Earl Grey proposal could be environmentally acceptable, if certain conditions were implemented to avoid and minimise potential impacts.
“This is the second-largest lithium mining proposal, along with the Greenbushes mine expansion, the EPA has assessed this year,” Dr Hatton detailed.
“If the proposal is to go ahead, the EPA is recommending the proponent prepares management plans for its impact to the surrounding environment, including habitat for malleefowl and chuditch, as well as develop an offsets strategy for threatened flora and fauna to counterbalance the proposal’s significant residual impacts.”
Dr Hatton noted that, if implemented, the proposal would result in the rehabilitation and use of many areas of the abandoned Mt Holland mine site that may otherwise not be readily rehabilitated.
The EPA’s report to the Minister for Environment is now open for a two-week public appeal period, closing 28 October 2019. The Minister for Environment will make the final decision.
Appeals can be made at www.appealsconvenor.wa.gov.au.
EPA Report 1651 is available at here.