K+S Salt Australia today welcomed the State Government’s plan to strengthen protections for the Exmouth Gulf, including expanded marine parks.

K+S Salt Australia Managing Director, Gerrit Gödecke, said the move reflected the approach taken by the company when planning the proposed Ashburton Salt project, south-west of Onslow, and would not impact the project going forward.

“From the outset of our project in 2016, we recognised the importance of the Exmouth Gulf and its south-eastern coastal areas,” Mr Gödecke said.

“For this reason, we have engaged with Traditional Owners, environmental authorities, scientists, industry and local stakeholders to study impacts on the local marine environment and adjusted the Ashburton Salt project to minimise them.”

“This includes an innovative research project in conjunction with with the commercial fishing industry and experts from Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and Murdoch University to simulate the prawn population in Exmouth Gulf.

“This exciting study will ensure a scientifically-informed assessment of the current activity of the prawn population and possible project impacts,” Mr Gödecke added.

If approved, the $430 million Ashburton Salt project is set to produce 4.7 million tonnes of salt per year and create some 90 local jobs in the Onslow community.

More than $10 million has been spent on significant environmental studies on the project, which includes moves to protect the nearby environment including:

  • Not locating the project on the sensitive mangrove and algal mat region to the south - and relinquishing permits for those areas;
  • Proposed footprint cut of 30%;
  • Proposed reduction of water intake locations from two to one;
  • No shipping in the Exmouth Gulf;
  • No dredging for a shipping channel;
  • No long-term bitterns storage on site; and
  • Layout based on science to minimise impacts on nutrient flow to nearby marine areas.

Mr Gödecke said his team would continue to work with relevant authorities and stakeholders as details regarding management of the proposed Marine Park were finalised.

“We have finished our environmental studies and these are with the EPA as part of their Public Environmental Review process,” Mr Gödecke said.

“This robust process will ensure all stakeholders have a say on the project once they have seen all of the science. We look forward to this process continuing.”