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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

21 November 2001

Decision on Honeymoon Environmental Assessment

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today gave environmental clearances - subject to conditions - to the last of the outstanding issues relating to the Honeymoon Uranium Project.

"In January 2001, I found that all matters other than the disposal of waste through re-injection into the Basal Sand aquifer were environmentally acceptable," Senator Hill said.

"In the case of the re-injection of waste, I wanted further advice on any potential "migration" of the waste and expected environmental consequences. As a result, the proponent was required to undertake further evaluation of the aquifer, including hydraulic testing pursuant to formal terms of reference."

The proponent provided a final supplementary report in August, 2001.

"My Department has since sought advice on the report from the Australian Geological Survey Organisation (AGSO) and the Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS). These organisations have particular expertise in the geology and hydrogeology of north east South Australia.

"Advice was also sought from a hydrogeochemist from Macquarie University, Mark Pirlo, who has particular expertise in in-situ leach mining impacts.

"My department has subsequently advised me that the additional studies show that the Basil Sands Aquifer, into which it is proposed to inject waste, is confined to the Yarramba Palaeochannel.

"The waste would be contained within this hydrogeological environment and remain isolated from the biosphere beyond the foreseeable future."

Department advice was that whilst there maybe some migration in accordance with the natural gradient, it would be very slow and insignificant given that the re-injected waste and liquids were expected to approach natural background levels within relatively short time frames, estimated to be 10 to 15 years.

"My department has advised that the re-injection of the wastes is a good option compared to other disposal options," Senator Hill said.

"After careful consideration, I have accepted this advice.

"I am now satisfied that, in this instance, the proposed method of disposal of the waste with the proposed stringent controls, is environmentally acceptable."

Senator Hill said the proponent should lodge a rehabilitation bond to ensure land disturbed by mining operations would be rehabilitated.

He also said the company should ensure regular monitoring and reporting of the operational aspects of the mine, including groundwater conditions.

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Media Contact:
Belinda Huppatz 08 82377920 or 0419 258364

Commonwealth of Australia