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Curtin partners with Mineral Resources/Polaris

Media release

Partnership explores biodiversity within the Helena-Aurora and Jackson Ranges

 Curtin University’s Environmental Biology Group has partnered with Polaris Metals, a subsidiary of Mineral Resources, to develop an understanding of the relationship between biodiversity and the environment in the Yilgarn region of south-western Australia.

The partnership, led by Associate Professor Grant Wardell-Johnson, of Curtin’s Department of Environment and Agriculture, has appointed Research Fellow Giovanni Di Virgilio to undertake the research, which will improve the effectiveness of biodiversity data gathered for Polaris’ mining proposals.

Dr Wardell-Johnson said the opportunity to combine quality biodiversity data gathered onsite over several years with associated environmental and Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) data from the region, would provide information beneficial to the State, to the mining industry in general, and to Polaris in particular.

“The high-level of mining interest and the conservation significance in this region, paired with increased scrutiny of mining proposals and planning means this data is particularly valuable in developing an understanding of the region,” Dr Wardell-Johnson said.

“The research will provide predictive models and maps of flora and vegetation in the region in relation to the environment, informing environmental assessments which rely on the portrayal of spatially explicit data.

“This will help the mining industry speed up the assessment process, while understanding the relationship between the patterns of extraordinarily rich flora in the area and appropriate future rehabilitation.”

Mineral Resources has referred the J5 and Bungalbin East projects, located within the Helena and Aurora Conservation Park to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), for Environmental Impact Assessment.

Mineral Resources Managing Director Chris Ellison said, “Mineral Resources embraces the EPA assessment process and is a strong supporter of proper environmental management, believing mining can co-exist with the environment, delivering jobs and economic benefits to WA.”

“By increasing the lifetime of mining in the Yilgarn it will generate 1500 full time equivalent positions comprised of direct and flow-on employment in the construction phase alone.”

Through initiatives such as this partnership with Curtin, the company is at the forefront developing new procedures to help position the company as an industry leader in environmental management.

The research project has commenced this month, with Research Fellow Giovanni Di Virgilio reviewing the data. Results are expected by February 2015, with subsequent publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Notes to editor:

About Mineral Resources in the Yilgarn

Mineral Resources subsidiary Polaris Metals mines 5 million tonnes per annum from Carina mine, located 100 kilometres north east of Southern Cross, with ore exported through Kwinana Bulk Terminal at the Port of Fremantle.

Increasing the lifetime of mining in the Yilgarn, according to an independent economic impact analysis, will deliver in the Construction phase:

  • Total employment of around 1500 full time equivalent positions comprised of direct and flow-on employment
  • Total output of $513 million comprised of $209 million in direct output and flow-on effects of $304 million
  • Estimated contribution to Gross State Product of $214 million
  • Total household income of $102 million, comprised of $32 million in direct income and flow-on effects of $70 million.

 

Then in the Operations phase (from 2016 onwards):

  • Total employment of approximately 2000 full time positions comprised of direct and flow-on employment
  • Total output of $978 million each year, comprised of $545 million in direct outputs and flow-on effects of $433 million
  • Estimated contribution to Gross State Product of $510 million each year
  • Total household income of $154 million each year comprised of $50 million in direct income and flow-on effects of $104 million
  • State Government royalty revenue of $45 million each year
  • Payroll tax payments of $2.4 million each year.