A South Australian court has directed a Government Minister to grant a groundwater licence for Lincoln Minerals’ proposed iron ore mine at Gum Flat on the Eyre Peninsula.
It follows a ruling this month by the Environment, Resources and Development Court of South Australia (ERD Court) allowing the company’s appeal and reversing the decision of SA’s Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation refusing Lincoln’s application for a water licence to extract groundwater for its proposed new iron ore mine at the Gum Flat (Barns) deposit.
The ERD Court has directed the Minister to grant a water licence and has remitted the matter to the Minister for further consideration as to appropriate conditions on the licence.
The licence will permit Lincoln to extract groundwater from the region’s Basement Aquifer to progressively de-water a small part of that aquifer in order to lower and maintain the water level below the proposed iron ore mining operations over the five years of the mine’s proposed stage 1.
The Barns deposit is within the Southern Basins Prescribed Wells Area (SBPWA) and is subject to a Water Allocation Plan (WAP).
In Lincoln’s application for a water licence, modelling by independent hydrogeologists established that the balance of water proposed to be extracted on an annual basis is well within the available 435 megalitre WAP allocation for the Basement Aquifer and the annual reduction in saturated thickness of the Basement Aquifer based on the proposed mine schedule is consistent with the WAP.
Furthermore, the independent modelling shows that, due to the presence of a clay barrier or aquitard, extraction of groundwater from the Basement Aquifer will not have any measurable effect on the Uley East lens within the overlying Bridgewater Formation aquifer and certainly no effect on the Uley South lens.
In 2011, Lincoln prepared a draft Mining Lease Proposal (MLP) for stage 1 mining of the Barns deposit at Gum Flat but has been awaiting groundwater licensing before the MLP can be submitted. Subject to the conditions of the water licence, the company can now complete the MLP.
Lincoln recognizes that the groundwater resources in the SBPWA are valuable and need to be managed sustainably. The company believes that the groundwater extraction scheme for its proposed mining operation is consistent with these principles and is committed to working within the WAP for the SBPWA.
The company is proposing a two-stage development option of which the first stage is to mine the Barns hematite deposit and annually export up to 250,000 tonnes direct shipping ore. The plan includes annually upgrading about 1 million tonnes of lower grade (40-55% iron) hematite-goethite-magnetite to DSO grade over a 4-5 year mine life. www.lincolnminerals.com.au