Response to Public Statements on the Dubbo Zirconia Project - EIS
Alkane Resources has a long term commitment (since the 1980s) to exploring and developing mining operations in the Central West of NSW in a safe and sustainable manner.
We take safety and our commitment to the environment seriously with action. We have continually demonstrated this in the way that we approach all of our exploration and mining activities. Our track record in the successful development and rehabilitation of Peak Hill is one that we are very proud of with no breaches of our licence conditions.
At Peak Hill (1996-2005) and now with our new mine at Tomingley, environmental performance is continuously monitored and then reported annually to the EPA and Division of Resources and Energy (within the Department of Trade & Investment, Regional Infrastructure & Services) with information publicly available on our website.
The Dubbo Zirconia Project (DZP) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
The EIS prepared for the DZP serves two primary roles. Firstly to describe the nature, extent and impacts of the project and secondly to demonstrate that the project conforms to very strict environmental guidelines, standards and criteria set by the relevant government departments to ensure the safety of communities and the environment.
The Dubbo Zirconia Project (DZP) is a complex multi-faceted project (the first zirconium, niobium and rare earths mineral processing plant and mine in Australia). The Department of Planning and Infrastructure have extended the public consultation/exhibition period to 8 weeks to give the community time to understand it.
We appreciate that there is a lot of technical information in the EIS for members of the community without a scientific background to absorb. Alkane has held two Community Consultation meetings in October to explain the main details and impact of the project, to answer the community’s questions and to work with them on appropriate solutions.
We would like to respond to public statements that have been made regarding the Dubbo Zirconia Project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) due to misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the EIS information.
“make a submission, which closes at the end of October!”
The public exhibition period for the EIS, during which submissions may be lodged in relation to the proposed DZP, closes on the 18 November. We welcome community submissions voicing their support or concerns for the project.
Our General Manager, NSW Mike Sutherland, a former local farmer and environmental scientist is always happy to answer any questions/concerns community members may have on any aspect of the EIS.
The safety of our staff, the community and the environment is paramount. Alkane is committed to compliance with all laws and regulations in relation to the environment and occupational health and safety and seeks to minimise their impact at all times.
In all of the estimates Alkane have taken a conservative approach to ensure that they don’t just comply with the maximum allowable limits, but that they consistently aim to minimise their impact.
“The mine will release up to 700,000 tonnes of slightly radioactive dust into the air each year.”
Alkane intend to mine and process 1,000,000 tonnes of ore per year, so to lose 700,000 tonnes of ore as dust is ridiculous.
Radiation occurs naturally within the environment (NORM) around the Central West including the rocks and soil in Dubbo, Toongi and Wellington and in the clays in the Macquarie River.
On average Australian adults receive 0.6 to 1.1mSv radiation dose from radon (inhaled) per year. A Sievert is a unit of effective dose of radiation.
0.05mSv is the average dose a person gets from a flight from Sydney to Perth.
The radiation levels at the closest residential receiver to the DZP Site (from the dust and radon) at Toongi is estimated to be no more than 0.03mSv per year. This is well below the average radiation dose received by an Australian adult and well below the international public dose standard (1mSv per year).
“The mine will produce up to 100kg/hour of Sulphur dioxide, 100kg/hour of nitrous Oxide (NO2), 23kg/hour of SO3, 29kg/hour of Hydrochloric Acid plus other toxic gasses, all directly into the air!”
In line with Alkane's commitment to minimising impacts on the environment, clean technologies at the plant including scrubbing are expected to reduce gas emissions to zero or close to zero.
“Toxic salt “ “hoping it won’t leak into the groundwater”
There is limited groundwater within the Toongi deposit and immediate surrounds. Our operation and salt residue will not impact it.
The Macquarie River has clays/sediments containing naturally occurring radioactive material from erosion of soil due to clearing and farming
The concentration of uranium and thorium in the waste salt is less than what is currently in the Toongi ore
The salt residue will be encapsulated within two HDPE plastic liners, separated by leak detection and management system, within purpose built low permeability cells. Bores will be installed around the cells to monitor for any change in groundwater quality which could indicate (the highly unlikely) breach of the liner. This is considered to be one of the most sophisticated, monitored and protective systems available.
In parallel to the EIS process Alkane is currently conducting research and development work on the possibilities of recovering most of the salts for reuse in the process.
The results of air quality monitoring, and water monitoring bores (EIS 220.127.116.11), and radioactive dust results (4.4.9) should be Publicly available on a website as close to real time as possible.
As an industry norm, environmental monitoring and reporting on air (incl dust) and water is in place for Tomingley and would occur for the Dubbo Zirconia Project (DZP).
“Dust minimisation - minimum emissions and wind erosion and haulage”
Alkane has already incorporated measures to prevent and/or minimise emissions of particulate matter from its mining operations for its Tomingley Mine. This practice while not stated measure for measure in the EIS forms the basis for the way Alkane responsibly conducts its business and looks after its staff, community and environment.
“Carbon offsets…. Pollutes Dubbo”
The Dubbo Zirconia Project will produce up to 70% of its own power. Ie the production of sulphuric acid for our process generates heat which we will turn into power. This minimises the projects draw on the state power grid which is largely generated by coal fired power stations.
The majority of the products from the DZP are used in emissions minimisation and green technologies and to improve energy efficiencies.