EIS review Essay Example

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Review of Environment Effects Statement for Nowa Nowa iron ore project(5 MILE DEPOSIT)

Proposed Nowa Nowa iron ore project on 18 November 2013

The proponent: Gippsland Iron Pty Ltd

Prepared By Eastern Iron Limited by Earth Systems

The project is located in the Tara State Forest approximately 7 kilometres to the north of Nowa Nowa and it includes an open-cut iron ore mine within 146 hectares of land. The project was determined by Minister for Planning under the Environment Effects Act 1978

The aim of the EES is to identify the potential effects of the project on the environment so as to develop an appropriate management and mitigation framework to minimize the potential adverse effects and maximise the potential benefits to the community and the state

Executive Summary

Gippsland Iron Pty Ltd proposes to commercially exploit iron ore mine from Tara state forest, near Nowa Nowa. Due to the potential for considerable environmental effects, on 19 December 2013, the Minister for Planning determined under the Environment Effects Act 1978, that Gippsland Iron Pty Ltd (GIPL) needs to prepare an Environment Effects Statement (EES) for the Nowa Nowa Iron Project. For this reason, Gippsland Iron Pty Ltd conducted extensive studies on land mining and prepared an EES for the project. EES provides a detailed description of a project and the possible impact on the environment. This will inform the public as well as enable government assessment of the project so as to better decision.

The EES prepared by the company has some missing gaps as they did not adequately address the issues regarding negative impact of the project, risk due to induced natural hazards making it hard to make an informed decision.

There is less or no data on the relationships between genetic and taxonomy of the macro – invertebrate species found in area. Therefore, the genetic variability of the organisms is yet to be known. What will be the fate of a well-known charismatic macro-fauna including gorillas, tigers, or poorly known land invertebrates? According to the bioethics, resource development should not expose the species to the risk of extinction.

The EES mitigations plans rely mainly on the proposals by the Environmental Management which has been developed by the company and they have made more proposals to be implemented. Its effectiveness cannot be judged at the present. It is possible that the project would have severe an impact on the global biological community.

The company proposes to employ up to 120 workforces for over a 10 year mine period, which contribute $700 million into the state. However, they need to address some of the environmental issues like negative impact of the project, risk due to induced natural hazards. Although the local people are expected to benefit from project precaution needs to be taken to risk to the environment. Generally, the project is of small scale compared to other mining projects and the overall risk will be less.

Description of the proposed project

Gippsland Iron Pty Ltd is applying for permission to develop a new open-cut iron ore mine in the Tara State Forest approximately 7 kilometres to the north of Nowa Nowa. Nowa Nowa is located on the main Highway between Orbost and Bairnsdale in East Gippsland.

The mine site is locate to the east of Buchan Bruthen Road and to the north east of the its junction with Nowa Nowa Bruthen Road. The site is not only surrounded by state forest, but also areas of Special Management Zone and Special Protection Zone under the East Gippsland Forest Management Plan (FMP). The mine is expected to have single open pit, run of mine area, a waste rock dump (WRD), water management installations, a low grade ore stockpile area, processing and management facilities, access roads and land used for various supporting purposes. The project would also require relocation and construction of Nowa Nowa Buchan Road along a new alignment outside the mine works footprint.

The mine license covers an area of 146 hectares with a mine life of eight to ten years, with the possibility of extending depending on the mining rates and further exploration. The expected production is one Million tonnes per annum (Mtpa), with the value of the iron ore deposit estimated to be between 8 and 10 tonnes. The ore would be mined using open cut technology and processed using dry low intensity magnetic separation, with high grade ore being exported directly from the mine by use of truck. Lower grade ore would be stockpiled temporarily for possible direct sale, further processing, or disposal into the mine pit at the exhaustion of the mine. Waste rock would be stockpiled on cleared land close to the mine. At the conclusion of mining period, the land would be rehabilitated, with a lake to form in the open pit.

The project will have a workforce of approximately 120 full time employees during the project operation. It expects to contribute $700 million USD in state and regional economy over 8 to 10 year period. In addition, it will add to the benefit of the local economy through employment and services, as well as contributing to state revenue through taxes and royalties.

Broad goals

The EES generally provides a lot of information which gives a better understanding of the project. However, it has some missing gaps. For example, it discusses the potential positive effects of the project on the socioeconomic development in the area, ignoring its negative impact. For instant, the pressure on land caused by the Project due to population increases Nowa Nowa town, as many people will migrate looking for jobs with the Project. As with any other new development, it is most likely that many people will migrate to Nowa Nowa seeking employment. However, the Project expects to employ about 120 people. The problem of most people not finding a job would be severe, and the project should have thoroughly addressed the issue.

The EES states that: “It will undertake specialised training programs for the employees”, with a possibility of increasing the employees over the years. There is however no detailed discussion on where and how they intend to do, or the number of local people who will be employed. It is possible that few of the locals will gain employment by the project.

The ESS states that the project will develop appropriate and mitigation framework to minimize potential on the community and maximize socioeconomic benefits. However, proposed mitigations are still to be implemented and thus it is difficult to draw a conclusion. The document gave good mitigation measures which should be monitored by the authorities to ensure its compliance.

Grade C: This is because although project has addressed the key information, it has failed to provide enough information for which individuals can understand the proposal. It should have adopted a balanced view and honest data which provide a fair ground for judgement.

The EES states that it will develop a program according to the ‘Victoria department of industries community engagement guidelines for mineral exploration and mining in Victoria (2008). There it has outline guidelines through which the public can participate in the project. These include involving the stakeholders at all levels of the project. The Stakeholders will be informed about the potential impacts of the projects, as well handling of feedback and complains. However, there is no evidence to show how far they have implemented the plan and whether all the stakeholders including the indigenous people in the surrounding area were incorporated. There is no quantitative evidence to indicate how they have had any live engagement. Consultation is not just meeting a small group of people, but rather having a deliberate process where all the stakeholders are made aware, for example through public consultation forums. After conducting a research, there should be a season for dialog so as to resolve the outstanding issues in adequate manner, and the EIS has no evidence that legal engagement occurred. Even if there were some consultation with the expert; there are no views and concerns of the indigenous people in all areas concerning the exploitation, sustainability and the environment around the Nowa Nowa.

Grade B: The project has provided fair framework for public consultation through which far decisions can be made.

The EES states that there were consultations of the stakeholder who include the technical experts, the local community, the government and collected information appropriate consultation and disclosure methods that assisted them to make better outcome. For this reason, they prepared stakeholders management plan. The plan includes a clear line of communication and engaging with the stockholders through sessions and forums. The plan also supports the referral to the minister for planning for recommendation as to whether to prepare an EES in accordance to the Environmental Effect Act 1978. Act authorizes the Vitoria Environmental conservation department, while assessing the EES; refer the environmental conservation consultants or public committee. It is not clear whether the environmental department has set up a committee to review the EES. All the same the independent committee should be set up so as to review the document and therefore establish a baseline for future development of similar proposals.

Grade B: The project has provided fair framework through which decision makers can make decision.

The project claims that the Ground Management Area does not include Nowa Nowa region. This is an understatement. The loss of an entire barge load of iron ore at the surface of unknown depth will generate a major impact on underground water. There description of how they plan to reclaim the land is not very convincing. There is also less description on the procedure and precaution taken to ensure that fuel spillage does not occur, or how they would respond to spillage.

There are concerns which range from effects on ecosystem, regional loss, rare or endemic species, reduction of diversity species or high taxonomy levels, which has not been addressed adequately in the EES. Considering the project’s normal operation ecological footprint is significant. For example, what would happen to the ecological life of the 146 hectares of land? The entire organisms and vegetation within the area would be destroyed by mining process. It is expected that the activity will have impact on the areas and inhabitants surrounding the mined area.

It states that Environmental Management Plans to prevent the impact on water quality through implementation of mitigation measures through regular monitoring of surface and ground water and conforming to the environmental management plan. Since this implementation process is yet to be developed, it is difficult to judge how this mitigation works. Such development should be developed before submission of EIS, and there should be constant follow ups by the government officials to ensure its compliance.

It cannot be confirmed how effective the project would treat the discharge before releasing. More harm would be experienced severely if accidents occur. The most striking scenario of immediate concern is that of spillage of fuel, toxic ore, or other dangerous materials onboard, in the water drainage system. According to the Planning and Environmental Act 1978, mining should be conducted in a way that is environmentally responsible and socially acceptable is subjective and is open for discussion. It is clear that the not the all environmentalist and the local residents feel that the project is not friendly to the environment.

Grade B: It is environmentally sound proposals which minimising adverse effects and maximising benefits to the environment. The proposed mitigation is satisfactory, but its implementation is yet to be accessed.

Specific goals

  1. Grade C: The EIS left some questions unanswered in their management of risk. When defining risk for the project,

It refers to the possible events/hazards…..that occur as a result of implementing the project (Nowa Nowa iron project, p 4-46)

It does goes ahead to give a list risk, but it does not mention the possibility of induced volcanism due to mining. More needs to be done to access the potentiality of inducing volcanism while mining in this depth. In accidents, they proposed good mining procedure and operation, they would provide training. This would require constant evaluation to ensure its compliance.

Concerning consultation with the local community,

GLaWaC were engaged by the cultural heritage advisor to participate in fieldwork, to assist with consulting the local Aboriginal community – Attachment 10, p. 2.

This has been dealt with in Attachment 10, p. 9. This takes into account the substantial stewardship of the local people on forest environment as holistic entity and one with heritage and spiritual value.

One of the requirements of the scoping document is that there must be in-depth investigation of alternatives. The reasons for not proceeding with other alternatives have been well elaborated in section 4 of the ESS. One of the reasons is the environmental considerations.

  1. Grade B: There is sufficient information for each major component including the likelihood and the mitigation measures.

  2. Grade B: The information that has been captured in EIS is correct. One of the reasons is that there was enough consultation according to the plan. The document contain scientifically sound information which sufficient for making an informed decision.

  3. Grade B: The EES identified the relevant environmental values, including the likely or known impacts of the development on these environmental values. It has also identified social and economic benefits which range from employment, increase in government revenue to the development of the infrastructure.

  4. Grade C: According to the project management plan, comments from all the stakeholders are taken into account. However, a lot of emphasis was given to the experts with little opinion from the indigenous people.

  5. Grade B: The EES contain a satisfactory statement of key findings like impact on ground water, aquatic life including mitigation measures to manage or offset the impact.

  6. Grade B: The EES provide a non-complex document which is understandable by decision makers and the public. For example there are tables with distinct quantitative data. It has also provided a proper framework through the stakeholders can be consulted including feedback and complains.

  7. Grade B: Considering the reasons given above, it can be concluded that the document contain sufficient information for decision making by the authorities. The recommendations made in the EES are relevant.

  8. Grade C: There are some gaps in this document which should have been addressed in the EES. For example, the risk of possibility of inducing volcanism due to mining has not been addressed. Such information is necessary when accessing the potentiality of inducing volcanism while mining in this depth.

  9. Grade B: The EES contain a clearly summary of the project and recommendations, enabling a clear understanding of the project.


The Environmental Management Plans (EMPs) provides a better platform for accessing the potential impact and mitigation effectiveness. The EMP is positive regarding the project. Victoria federal authority should monitor the project compliance to the rule and regulations permitted for the project. The government can then assess the potential impact of the project.

The project also needs to address some of the environmental issues like negative impact of the project, risk due to induced natural hazards. Although the local people are expected to benefit from project precaution needs to be taken to risk to the environment. Generally, the project is of small scale compared to other mining projects and the overall risk will be less compared with the benefits. The overall grade is B.


Eastern Iron Limited by Earth Systems, 2013. Environment Effects Statement for Nowa Nowa iron ore project (5 MILE DEPOSIT) at Environmental assessment in http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning/environment-assessment

Victoria department of primary industry (DPI), 2008. Community Engagement Guidelines for Mining and mineral Exploration in Victoria.