K+S Salt Australia has continued to build on its commitment to local Traditional Owners, with the completion of the first in a series of Cultural Heritage surveys on the AshburtonRead more
Ashburton Salt’s latest environmental news
Two members of the K+S Salt Australia team were in Exmouth yesterday, meeting with stakeholders and participating in consultation with the EPA.
After our planned trip in April had to be postponed due to COVID-19, we were pleased to be able to meet with some key contacts in Exmouth this week. At this stage we hope to be able to host another Community Information session in early 2021.
The purpose of this trip has been to provide an update to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the environmental studies we’ve been undertaking and how we’re minimising our impact on the environment.
We discussed with the EPA their current cumulative impact study and shared information on how the Ashburton Salt Project is being designed to minimise impacts on and the interface with the Exmouth Gulf. For more information view our fact sheet.
UPDATES ON OUR ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES
Although COVID-19 has impacted on the schedule for our study program, we are still on track for submitting a draft Public Environmental Review (PER) to the EPA in the coming months, and anticipate the PER will be released by the EPA for public comment during 2021. K+S Salt Australia has conducted more studies for the Ashburton Salt project than most resources projects – over a period of four years. Key technical studies have been independently peer reviewed.
To date we have completed studies investigating impacts on terrestrial Flora and Fauna, which found no significant impacts are expected. Field work is completed for geotechnical, hydrogeology and acid sulphate soils studies with modelling and reports currently being prepared.
Studies which are now in their final stages include:
- Modelling of bitterns discharge – a bitterns dilution pond and diffuser have been designed to maximise dilution.
- Surface water modelling – drainage diversions and flow structures have been designed to maintain existing surface water flows and prevent flooding of infrastructure.
- Modelling of the seawater intake – potential impacts to Urala Creek South (erosion and scour) are predicted to be localised, and the intake screens are being designed to minimise impingement of marine fauna.
- Marine fauna studies – impacts to Turtles are expected to be minimal due to lighting management. Impacts to whales, dugongs and sawfish are expected to be minimal due to minimisation of habitat disturbance.
- Benthic habitat studies – impacts to benthic habitat are expected to be minimal due to careful project design.
- Prawn modelling has been delayed due to COVID and data collection. It is expected to be finalised in the coming months.
HOW THESE STUDIES ARE SHAPING OUR PROJECT
The studies have helped us produce accurate modelling to assess potential impacts. We have already begun implementing design and scope changes to mitigate potential impacts. A strong focus of project design has been to minimise impacts on and interface with the Exmouth Gulf. This includes:
- Locating the project near Onslow and the Government’s Ashburton North Strategic Industrial Area (ANSIA);
- Providing an adequate buffer to important mangrove communities;
- Minimising impacts on algae mat communities;
- Not including long-term bitterns (salty water produced from seawater evaporation) storage on site, instead investigating other practices for better bitterns management;
- Minimising dredging of the ocean floor (only a very small berthing pocket will be dredged);
- Relinquishing any permits to explore / develop to the south of Ashburton Salt, removing the ability to expand on to environmentally sensitive areas to the south; and
- Shipping only into the Indian Ocean away from the Exmouth Gulf. Mooring points will be well away from Gulf areas and trans-shippers do not require a shipping channel to be dredged.
We knew from the very start that significant impacts on the Exmouth Gulf would not be acceptable from an environmental or community perspective. This is why the project has been developed to minimise any possible impact on the Gulf.
About the EPA’s cumulative environmental impact study
The EPA announced they would be conducting a cumulative environmental impact study regarding current and proposed activities with the potential to impact the Exmouth Gulf.
The Ashburton Salt project is one of several projects which has been included in the EPA cumulative impact study. The EPA will need to review the outcomes of the study, before they make any decisions on our project.