Frequently Asked Questions
Nowa Nowa Iron Project (Five Mile Deposit)
East Gippsland, Victoria
- Who is Gippsland Iron?
Gippsland Iron Pty Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Eastern Iron Limited, and the company through which Eastern Iron will develop and operate the Nowa Nowa Iron Project. Eastern Iron is a minerals exploration company, which listed on the ASX in May 2008. Eastern Iron is focussed on developing the Iron Ore and continuing exploration for copper and gold in East Gippsland.
About the project
- Where is the mine located?
The project is located approximately 7km north of the township of Nowa Nowa, which is situated on the Princes Highway between Bairnsdale and Orbost in East Gippsland, Victoria. The site is wholly within the Tara State Forest (Crown land) which is primarily managed by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries for timber harvesting. The area within the vicinity of the proposed works has been logged over the past 60 years.
- What size is the mine?
The project components cover an area of approximately 146 hectares lying close to the Old Nowa Nowa-Buchan Road, near to its intersection with Tomato Track. The footprint of the open pit is approximately 25 hectares.
- How much iron ore will be produced?
Once the project is operational, it will produce up to 1 million tonnes of iron ore per year from an open pit, over a mine life of approximately 7 years. This is a relatively small operation – and does not compare with operations in locations such as the Pilbara, where BHP Billiton alone is forecasting production of 212 million tonnes of iron ore this financial year.
- What infrastructure will be on site?
The processing plant (crushers and magnetic separator), Mine Operations Centre (MOC) and various roads will be established for mine operations. The MOC includes administration offices, workshops, stores, staff amenities, parking areas, first aid and emergency response facilities. It also includes water and fuel storage areas. A manned security hut on the mine access road will be the first accessible point to the site for staff, visitors and deliveries. It will also restrict any unauthorised public access.
- When will the project start?
The project is currently awaiting resolution of the transport solution. There is no current estimate of a start up time.
- What are the planned hours of operation of the mine?
It is proposed to operate the mine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, although some activities will only occur during daylight hours.
- How long will the mine operation last?
The Nowa Nowa Project is planned to have an operating mine life of approximately 7 years.
- Do you have an OH&S protocol developed for on-site workers?
While Eastern Iron has detailed work and safety systems in place, it is important that OH&S practices and procedures are developed specifically for this operation and this will be done as part of the establishment phase of the project.
- How is the iron mined and what do you do to it before it leaves site?
Most of the material in the pit will be mined using a surface miner which crushes the rock as it transfers it into a waiting haul truck. Ore will be hauled from the open pit to an area called the "Run of Mine" or ROM pad for processing. It will be further crushed if necessary and then fed over a magnetic drum to separate the magnetic ore ("product") for trucking.
- What chemicals are being used, and what risk to they pose?
No chemicals or reagents will be used to process the ore.
- Are any tailings produced in the processing of the ore?
As the process is dry, no wet tailings will be produced in the processing of the ore. Therefore, a tailings dam will not be required.
- What forms of waste are produced?
Approximately 24 Mt of waste rock will be mined over the life of the mine and permanently disposed within a waste rock stockpile adjacent to and upstream of the open pit. The final waste rock pile will be revegetated on mine closure. The low-grade ore rejected from the magnetic separation process will be temporarily stockpiled adjacent to and upstream of the open pit during the life of the mine. Any material remaining at surface on mine closure will be placed in the open pit under a permanent water cover, and the area rehabilitated and revegetated.
- Are there areas of cultural significance within the site?
Eastern Iron is working with the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) to survey areas of cultural heritage sensitivity. One site has been identified within the vicinity of the mine access road. Eastern Iron is committed to preparing a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) in accordance with the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 to manage any potential disturbance associated with the project.
- What is Eastern Iron doing to protect the heritage values of the area?
In addition to the preparation of a CHMP for the site, staff and contractors working on the site or involved in its management will undergo cultural and heritage training with GLaWAC. GLaWAC will also be consulted closely during the preparation, operation and closure/rehabilitation process.
- How much water will the project use?
While using water in the processing of the ore would result in a higher grade and more valuable iron ore product, Eastern Iron has decided not to use a wet separation process to separate the iron ore. Instead, Dry Low Intensity Magnetic Separation (“Dry LIMS”) will be used. This means that water use will be limited to dust suppression and is estimated at approximately 164 ML per annum.
- Where will the required water be sourced from?
Project water requirements will be sourced from water that lands on the cleared areas of the site, which will be collected and stored in dams. Groundwater from pit dewatering will also be used during operations.
- What impact will the mine have on down-stream creeks and catchments including Lake Tyers?
The mine and associated operations are designed so that no waste water will leave the area associated with mining and processing during the operating life of the mine. Any water that lands on the mining/processing area will be stored in dams on site and reused, mainly for dust suppression. Environmental flows into the catchment will continue from the remaining licence area and will be monitored for water quality prior to release.
Should flooding occur due to an extreme weather event (which has not occurred since records have been collected in this area over the last 60 years) so that the operational dams are insufficient to hold surface water from the mining and processing area, this water will be collected in the open pit (halting operations).
- Will the mine create excessive noise problems for the local community?
Modelling undertaken to date suggests that operating noise will not impact stakeholders in the area, as the mine is located within the Tara State Forest and approximately 4 km from the nearest private residences. Specialist studies and monitoring will be undertaken as part of the approvals process as required.
- Will the mining operation cause dust problems?
Working areas of the site will be sprayed with water (collected on site) to supress dust during mining operations.
- How much land will be cleared?
The total area to be cleared is approximately 146 hectares. This includes the open pit itself (approximately 25 hectares) and all roads and infrastructure. Once mining operations have concluded, all but the open pit itself (which will become a fresh water lake) and an access road will be revegetated.
- Are there any endangered flora and fauna on-site?
Investigations undertaken to date indicate that there are no species (flora or fauna) within the proposed project area that are protected under the Australian Government’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 or the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1998. In addition to the rehabilitation of the cleared area after closure of the mine, a biodiversity offset will be established that protects the biodiversity of an area at least equivalent (in biodiversity terms) to the cleared area – in perpetuity.
- How will ore be exported to markets?
Eastern Iron has planned to utilise the SEFE ship loading and wharf facilities at Two Fold Bay near Eden in southern NSW. It was proposed that trucks be used to transport the ore to this bulk loader. this is now not possible due to an adverse decision by SEFE.
It is now proposed that mined and beneficiated iron ore would be delivered from the mine either by truck or slurry pipeline some 15km to a point close to the coast. The iron ore would then be stockpiled and during ship loading, mixed with water, loaded into a slurry line and pumped offshore directly onto +100,000 tonne vessels. The bulk carrier would be attached to a single-point bottom-anchored mooring. The slurry line is secured to the sea floor and enters the vessel at the mooring point. The iron ore solids are relatively coarse with low slimes which enables the water to decant rapidly from the slurry and be returned to the shore facility for storage until the next shipment. It is estimated that the concentrate would be shipped at less than 10% moisture content. Using a slurry pipeline significantly reduces the truck movements in the area.
- What is proposed transport route?
The majority of the transport route between the mine and port is via the Princes Highway. Trucks will leave the site directly onto the Bruthen-Buchan Road, travel west to the Nowa Nowa Road then south to the Princes Highway. They will travel along the Princes Highway to NSW before turning east onto Edrom Road and directly to the existing port on the southern side of Two Fold Bay.
- How many trucks will be using the road during operation?
Final truck numbers will depend on the capacity of the trucks used. The feasibility study is considering the best approach to take (truck capacity and operating hours) which will determine the daily truck numbers. It is currently envisaged that trucks will operate 24 hours a day, Monday to Friday, with additional daylight operations on weekends (if required). The maximum average number of trucks per day on a given point of the route (assuming 800,000 t of product is exported) would be 74 vehicle return trips per day.
Benefits and Opportunities
- How many people will be employed by the Project?
The project will directly generate approximately 52 Full Time Equivalent jobs.
What sort of jobs will be available and how can I apply?
Specific jobs will only be known when the feasibility study concludes but will include:
- Mining specialists
- Excavation and crushing equipment operators
- Truck drivers
- Administration and support staff
- Security personnel
- Environmental related services personnel
The majority of the jobs will be with contractors providing services to Eastern Iron.
Eastern Iron will work with its contractors, the Shire Council, GLaWAC and the local community to maximise the employment of people from the surrounding region. In addition to the direct jobs, a significant number of indirect jobs – jobs that support the project’s service providers - will be created.
How much economic activity will be generated by the project?
At this stage Eastern Iron expects to spend up to $700 million in the local and regional economy over a 10 year period.
Will you be flying people in and out?
The Company will not be using Fly-In-Fly-Out (FIFO) workers. Almost all employees and contractors will be sourced from the local area.
- What happens when the operation of the mine ceases?
A number of steps will be taken to rehabilitate the site:
- All mine infrastructure will be removed.
- Any waste rock requiring sub-aqueous disposal for geochemical stability and any low-grade ore remaining on mine closure are to be backfilled into the base of the pit to remain well below the permanent water level in the pit.
- The open pit will be allowed to flood via groundwater and surface water inflows.
- The Operations Water Storage is to be decommissioned but the structure retained as a wetland to passively treat overflow from the pit lake.
- The Clean Water Storage downstream of the Operations Water Storage will be decommissioned, but the structure retained as an additional wetland to polish water draining from the pit lake.
- All cleared areas, except the pit and an access road to the pit will be revegetated via the following process:
- The waste rock stockpile will be recontoured to fit in with the surrounding landscape.
- The area will be covered with topsoil gathered during the original clearing process.
- Seeds collected from the local area will be propagated in a nursery for use during revegetation of the area.
- The end use of the pit lake will be determined in consultation with the regulators, Council and community. It is envisaged that it will be available for fire fighting and may be populated with fish.
- Where can I get more information?
The Company welcomes any enquiries from the local community and any other stakeholders, and can be contacted directly through the details below.
Gippsland Iron Pty Ltd
PO Box 956, Crows Nest NSW 1585
Phone: (02) 9906 7551
Web Site: www.easterniron.com.au
Will there be further consultation later in the process?
Yes. Additional public consultation initiatives will be taken later in the process with more definitive information about the project.