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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

20 October 2006

McArthur River mine approved under EPBC Act


The ongoing protection of the Freshwater Sawfish and listed migratory birds will be assured under conditions set by the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, as part of the environmental approval for the Northern Territory's McArthur River mine.

"I am satisfied that the proposed changes to the mine will not have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance," Senator Campbell said.

The McArthur River zinc, lead and silver mine and processing operation is located approximately 750km south-east of Darwin. The proposed changes will see the mine shift from using underground to open cut methods of mining.

Approvals under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) are required to consider impacts of development activity on matters of national environmental significance.

McArthur River mine needed approval under the Act because it was thought to have a potential impact on two matters on national environment significance: the threatened Freshwater Sawfish and several species of migratory birds.

Senator Campbell said that Xstrata is required to ensure ongoing protection of these matters by adhering to the following conditions:

Senator Campbell's approval follows a rigorous environmental assessment of the mine and its possible impacts undertaken on behalf of both governments by the Northern Territory Government.

Northern Territory Government approval for the mine was given on 13 October 2006 on the basis that the environmental effects associated with the expansion and day to day operations of the mine are acceptable.

"This decision demonstrates anew that environment protection can be balanced with economic well-being, and is a win for Territorians and for all Australians," Senator Campbell said.

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

Commonwealth of Australia