EPA recommends conditional approval for Thunderbird project Report 1606

Release date: 
09 October 2017

A proposal to mine mineral sands has been recommended for approval by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), with strict conditions.

Sheffield Resources Limited’s Thunderbird Mineral Sands Project proposal is located on the Dampier Peninsula in the Kimberley, approximately 95 km northeast of Broome and 75 km west of Derby.

The proposed mine requires the clearing of up to 1961 hectares (ha) of native vegetation within a 5648 ha development envelope, and would operate for an estimated 40 years, generating 12 to 18 million tonnes per annum of zircon and ilmenite product.

Minerals would be processed onsite before transport by road to the ports of Derby and Broome for storage and export.

The key proposal components include upgrading and extending an existing road to provide a 32 km access road to the Great Northern Highway.
The proponent plans to construct a storage/export facility on existing disturbed land at Derby Port, using barges to transfer the product to vessels off Point Torment. Existing facilities would be utilised for additional shipping through the Port of Broome.

Under the recommended conditions, Sheffield Resources Limited would be required to undertake progressive mine rehabilitation to restore habitat suitable for the Greater Bilby. The proponent would also be required to establish and fund a Greater Bilby Research and Conservation Plan, aimed at improving the conservation and recovery of bilby populations on the Dampier Peninsula.

The recommended conditions also establish exclusion zones around sites of Aboriginal heritage values and restrict the area of groundwater drawdown to prevent impacts on other groundwater users.

The EPA’s report to the Minister for Environment is now open for a two-week public appeal period, closing 23 October, 2017. Appeals are administered independently by the Appeals Convenor and can be made at www.appealsconvenor.wa.gov.au

The Minister for Environment will make the final decision.

EPA Report 1606 is available at www.epa.wa.gov.au/proposals/thunderbird-mineral-sands-project

Media Contact: Fiona Adolph 0400 866 450