Legal Perspectives from EDO Tasmania
14 May 2014: Shree Minerals Nelson Bay Mine – Could the EPA have asked for “a little extra”?
The Tasmanian EPA says it knew Shree Minerals – owner of the Nelson Bay River Mine in the Tarkine – had underestimated the amount of acid producing rock its mine would generate. The EPA Director told ABC radio “we can’t simply hold off [on making a decision] because we’d like a little extra [information]”.
The underestimate was by a factor of 20 (240,000 m3 as opposed to 14,000 m3). Under s.27I of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994, the EPA has broad powers to seek more information from developers if the initial proposal documentation is inadequate.
While the EPA cannot ask for any information it likes, it can seek information required to make an informed assessment of the proposal. In this case, given the Board’s assessment report identified acid mine drainage as a critical issue, getting a reasonable estimate of the volume of acid-forming rock was clearly required.
The onus is on proponents to provide adequate and accurate information. The EPA should not apologise for requiring that information – parliament has given them the power to do so.