Public comment on the possibility of Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carrying out an environmental impact assessment on Alcoa’s current and next five-year plans for its mines in the state’s southwestern portion.
A third party forwarded on Alcoa’s 2022-2026 and 2023-2027 Mining and Management Programs (MMPs) to the EPA in February. Public comment on the plans began on August 7, and the window for comments will expire on the 15th of this month.
After the comment period closes, the EPA will be tasked with determining whether an assessment is necessary and at what level to conduct it. The EPA does not have a deadline for deciding how it will proceed.
Alcoa Australia President Matt Reed said in a press release that the comment period is an important part of the process of reaching regulatory certainty on the company’s bauxite mining operations in the state.
“Our utmost focus remains on securing certainty for our current and future bauxite mining operations. We firmly believe we can continue to operate safely and responsibly under both our existing robust statutory approvals framework set under our WA State Agreements and the more contemporary EPA approvals framework we are committed to transitioning to over a reasonable timeframe.”
“There must be a reasonable transition period during which we will continue to work collaboratively with various stakeholders and regulators to meet evolving requirements and expectations,” Reed continued.
He continued by noting that referring the Myara North and Holyoake to the EPA for assessment in 2020 showed Alcoa’s commitment to modernizing its approvals framework.
“We are increasing controls to protect drinking water, stepping up mine site rehabilitation and enhancing the management of social impacts including recently announced no mining zones around the towns of Dwellingup and Jarrahdale.”
“We are proud of our environmental track record and economic and social contributions to WA over the last 60 years and firmly believe we can continue to operate safely and responsibly,” he concluded.
Currently Alcoa mines low-grade bauxite at the Huntly mines, which supply its three alumina refineries in Western Australia. Alcoa’s operations in the state currently employ around 4,300 individuals.