The state’s mining regulator has approved updated rehabilitation plans for Woodvale Evaporation ponds, a site which has been plagued by environmental concerns in recent years.
The authortisation from Earth Resources Regulation, as part of a work plan submitted on behalf of mining company GBM Gold, comes with a number of conditions which will be monitored by the Environment Protection Agency.
Air-quality management, environmental audits and a dust management strategy – which must be in place by the end of October – are an ongoing requirement for the mining company.
ERR made the announcement at a fiery GBM Gold Environment Review Committee meeting on Tuesday, where a number of members of the Woodvale Progress Asssociation vented their frustration at GBM Gold for their inadequate consultation on the rehabilitation of the ponds.
The evaporation ponds store water pumped from historic mine workings that has absorbed salts and other heavy metals from the surrounding rock.
An ERR representative at the meeting said the conditions had been put in place to “protect human health and the environment”.
The Woodvale community has long harbored fears it may have been exposed to arsenic-contaminated dust from the evaporation ponds, particularly in the summer months.
Full details of the work plan and the rehabilitation options for the ponds will be released in the coming weeks, the ERR representative said at the meeting.
Minister for Resources Wade Noonan earlier this month confirmed GBM Gold has applied to renew its mining licence at the Kangaroo Flat site.
The current exploration licence expires this month, although the site hasn’t been mined since 2011, and the company recently claimed it was still 12-18 months away from resuming prospecting.
ERR was still assessing the application and will advise Minister Noonan, who has final responsibility for approving a licence.
Related: GBM Gold sells processing plant
The government transferred the mining and exploration licences from former site owner Unity Mining to Kralcopic – a subsidiary of Bendigo-based company GBM Gold – last year, on the condition the company rehabilitate two evaporation ponds at Woodvale within two years.
Kralcopic in May lodged a work plan variation to ERR, which included rehabilitation options for the ponds, after a previous application did not meet regulatory requirements.
GBM Gold recently sold its processing plant at the Kangaroo Flat site for $6.2 million, and will be exported to Guinea, West Africa.