Helena Aurora Range Tenement Applications

7 Nov 2017

Polaris Metals Pty Ltd a subsidiary of Mineral Resources Ltd applied for G77/124 and L77/270 over a portion of the Helena Aurora Range for a proposal to mine iron ore on the Bungalbin East Iron Ore Project. The Wilderness Society WA, Helena and Aurora Range Advocate Inc and Wildflower Society of WA Inc objected to the applications represented by the Environmental Defenders Office (WA).

The Helena Aurora Range has 2 endemic rare plant species including the tetratheca aphylla and Leucopogon spectabilis.

Polaris had previously applied for M77/1097 that had a suggested mine pit area is 208 hectares of the approximately 2320 hectares of the Helena and Aurora Range Range and applied for Mining Proposal.

In 2014 the EPA refused the proposal under Part IV of the EP Act of the then the Minister for Environment referred it to the Public Environmental Review (PER)

On the 3 August 2017 the EPA handed down the report that the Bungalbin proposal was environmentally unacceptable, which was appealed by both parties. Environment Minister Stephen Dawson received a report last Friday from the WA’s Appeals Convenor.

The key statement by the Warden is “in my view, the EP Act operates as a statutory fetter on the power vested in the Minister (Minister for Mining).. and Warden to grant mining applications where a notification has been issued under s45(8) of the EP Act.”

By the quotation of a previous cases Cable Sands, Baxter and Poelina the Warden concluded that he could hear matters of environmental concern.

The Warden was satisfied that the environment was being considered by force of the EP Act and concluded that he should not consider the Objections for the following reasons:

    1. All the issues have already or about to be heard by the Minister;
    2. Balancing the environmental and resource value of the project under Part VI is matter for the Minister; and
    3. The Minister is consider the issue and under the Mining Act and EP Act he is the appropriate person to do so.

Though he recommended them for grant depending on the outcome of the proceeding under Part IV of the EP Act.

If there is one lesson to be learnt from this case, is to apply for all your tenement applications as early as possible so that further applications are not held up in the Wardens Court.