Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) issued a press release on Monday stating that management was not surprised by the decision of Western Australia’s Environment Minister to support a mining ban at the Helena-Aurora Range.
The Helena-Aurora Range is among the world’s oldest banded ironstone formation ranges. It is located in Western Australia’s Northern Yilgarn area and is home to several rare and threatened species. It is also the site of a number of Mineral Resources’ potential developments. Specifically, the company wants to exploit the Jackson 5 and Bungalbin East iron ore deposits.
However, the miner’s plans have encountered a series of roadblocks put in place by the Environmental Protection Authority, whose assessment found the company’s proposals to be environmentally unacceptable and led to the conclusion that the Range should be protected from mining.
Even though the EPA’s report received nine appeals, such claims were eventually rejected following an independent investigation by the Appeals Convenor.
Last Friday, a new chapter of the saga was written when Western Australian Environment Minister Stephen Dawson made public his position on the matter saying that, indeed, mining should be banned in the area. “After carefully considering the concerns raised, I have found that the EPA’s assessment was rigorous and comprehensive. I agree with the conclusions of the Appeals Convenor and the reasoning behind those conclusions, and have dismissed the appeals accordingly,” he stated.
In spite of his resolute tone, Dawson said that his announcement was not a final decision from government and that he will consult with other ministries “to ensure the social, economic and environmental aspects of this proposal are considered.” In addition to this, the actual final call on the matter has to be made by the WA Government by the end of the year.
“The definitive decision on whether mining at J5 and Bungalbin East will be approved by government has always rested with cabinet and ultimately the Premier who must now carefully consider the material social and economic benefits that government’s approval will deliver to the State year on year over the next decade and beyond,” was Mineral Resources’ answer to the Minister’s words.
The Perth-based firm also indicated that Dawson’s communiqué was to be expected. “The Minister’s statement reaffirms the Environmental Protection Agency long-held position to oppose mining at the company’s two Yilgarn deposits, Jackson 5 and Bungalbin East. This position has remained unchanged for a number of years,” the media statement read.