Broome-based conservation group Environs Kimberley has condemned WA’s environmental watchdog, the EPA, for breaking its promise to consult over changes to a mining project that will see up to 100 road train movements a day to and from the Port of Broome.
Mining company Kimberley Mineral Sands, which had approval to export mainly through the Derby Port from its planned 2,000-hectare mine, applied to the EPA to export through Broome after Chinese owned Yansteel bought into 50% of the company. The company has also received a $160 million low interest loan facility from the Federal government.
According to the EPA approval of the Section 45C application, KMS can now export 1.6 million tonnes a year through the Port of Broome, with up to 100 road-train movements a day; that is, a road train going past residential areas every 15 minutes.
Environs Kimberley first wrote to the EPA with concerns about the change in November 2021, and in February we were told “…the EPA can choose to undertake public review of the submission.”
In May 2022, we were told we had been identified as a “…key stakeholder, and an officer from EPA Services will contact you soon to discuss.” The EPA confirmed in July that we would be consulted. This never happened, but in November the EPA approved trucking through Broome.
We also understand that the EPA has ignored the Shire of Broome’s request for:
“A comprehensive community consultation and engagement program, with a report to be submitted to Council detailing the submissions received and actions for resolution
How noise, emissions and traffic risks and other impacts through Broome townsite will be managed, i.e., what controls will be put in place to manage the large number of heavy vehicles passing schools and residential areas, such as curfews”.
The EPA said that it “…expects the proponent of the proposal to also undertake consultation.” This has not happened.
“We consistently called on the EPA to allow public comment on these highly significant changes to the mining company’s plans, which have the potential to seriously disrupt people’s lives and cause harm to the environment. The Shire of Broome also asked the EPA for community consultation to take place, and we’ve all been ignored,” Environs Kimberley Director Martin Pritchard said.
“The EPA has failed the community and environment in this instance and we’re really keen to know why. We get the sense that there are serious deficiencies inside the independent environmental umpire’s office, given the length of time that has passed with no response, and its failure to undertake community consultation despite having promised to do so, and having a year to do it in,” Mr Pritchard said.
“We are also concerned that there has been no social impact assessment of this mine and its workforce. Services are at breaking point in Broome and, with 450 jobs during construction, we doubt that facilities like childcare will be able to cope, and the housing crisis is going to get much worse. We are calling on the Minister for the Environment and WA Government to conduct a social impact assessment for this mine.”