An Australian Independent Planning Commission approved a modified version of Clean TeQ’s Sunrise nickel-cobalt-scandium project, located in New South Wales’ central west area. According to Clean TeQ, Sunrise is one of the highest grade and largest nickel and cobalt deposits outside of Africa and one of the largest and highest grade scandium deposits in the world.
The new version of the proposal includes strict conditions to mitigate against impacts on the community and the environment.
In a media statement, the regional government stated that Clean TeQ applied to the Department of Planning & Environment to modify its 2001 development consent for Sunrise, which comprises an open pit mine and processing facility in Lachlan, a limestone quarry and rail siding in Parkes, a borefield near Lachlan River in the Forbes local government area, and ancillary infrastructure, including accommodation camp, a water supply pipeline and natural gas pipeline.
The project started in 2006 with partial development of the borefield, but further work was suspended due to unfavourable economic conditions.
Given the recent surge in demand for nickel and cobalt, Clean TeQ aims to resurrect Sunrise, and the company believes it’s important to modify its original development consent to improve efficiency.
Yet, not everyone agrees with the new plan, as the provincial Department of Planning & Environment reports having received 39 public submissions objecting to or raising concerns about the proposal. Its environmental impacts, including on air quality, groundwater and surface water, are people’s main concerns.
After members of the Independent Commission scrutinised the application, met separately with all stakeholders, participated in a town hall, and carried out an inspection of the site and surrounding areas, they gave it the green light.
Among their conditions, they have reinstated ‘noise acquisition criteria,’ which give local landowners the right to request that CleanTeQ acquire their property if noise generated by the mine causes sustained exceedances of the noise criteria.
In their final decision, they also stated that the proposed modification to the development would not change the key elements of the Project and would not significantly increase its environmental impacts.
With the minerals extracted at the site, the company plans to implement its proprietary ion-exchange extraction and purification processing technology, aimed at the lithium-ion battery market. It also wants to provide scandium for the production of lightweight aluminum alloys.