The Hon Mark Butler MP
Minister for Climate Change
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Water
Statement - Shree Minerals
31 July 2013
I have granted Shree Minerals Limited approval to proceed with their proposed iron ore mine affecting an area of 152 hectares at Nelson Bay River in north-western Tasmania for which a mining lease has been issued by the Tasmanian Government. The approval is subject to 30 strict conditions.
This proposal has been the subject of lengthy community consultation in Northwest Tasmania, including with the local Aboriginal community through the Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation.
In considering the grant of an approval, I had regard to the impact such a development might have on "matters of national environmental significance" – in particular, on a number of listed threatened flora and fauna species. I have considered a wide range of comments and advice, including relevant approved conservation advices.
I have imposed conditions that I am confident will protect those species. These conditions include a range of avoidance and mitigation measures that will reduce the likely impacts. Where significant residual impacts remain likely, however, the company must take other action to compensate for the impacts, known as offsets.
The most significant conditions regulate the vehicle traffic in and around the site. Those conditions include prohibiting travel to and from the mine site outside daylight hours (except for emergency vehicles), a reduced speed limit, regular clearing of road ways and surrounding verges, and clear signage. I have also imposed a strengthened condition that requires all staff to travel to and from the site on a bus, except where separate approval for use of another vehicle (for operational reasons) is given by my department.
I am confident that these conditions will greatly reduce any threat by vehicles to wildlife covered by the Commonwealth legislation, including the Tasmanian Devil.
In addition, I have required the company to make a substantial contribution to Tasmania's ongoing efforts to protect the Tasmanian Devil. These include conditions to engage suitably qualified experts to prepare and implement a Tasmanian Devil monitoring strategy, having specific focus on the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program (at an estimated cost of $250,000), and a contribution of $350,000 funding for the maintenance of an "insurance population" of Devils in response to the Devil Facial Tumour Disease epidemic. This measure is consistent with the draft Tasmanian Devil recovery plan.
In the event that, in spite of traffic conditions I've imposed, more Tasmanian Devils are killed by vehicles, the company will be required to contribute an additional $48,000 funding for each Tasmanian Devil death, above two in any twelve month period, to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program. These funds will also go to the maintenance of an "insurance population" of Devils.
Further, for each spot-tailed quoll death above two in any twelve month period, the company must fund a three (3) month program of feral dog and cat trapping, or shooting; and for each wedge-tailed eagle death above one in any twelve month period, the company must contribute to wedge-tailed eagle monitoring strategies, as agreed to by the department to an estimated value of $20,000.
Studies associated with this development also identified possible significant impacts to four threatened orchids. I have therefore imposed a condition on the company that it contribute to baseline orchid research to an estimated value of $400,000.
These conditions will ensure that there are strong environmental protections in place for a development with significant economic potential for Northwest Tasmania.