Frequently Asked Questions
Alkane Resources values its community and the environment, is transparent and continually seeks to provide the facts on the Dubbo Project (DP). Below are Q&A’s to respond to questions community members have asked in a variety of forums.
Have more questions?
Please call, arrange to meet or email Mike Sutherland (02 6882 2866), our General Manager NSW who is happy to explain the project and the EIS.
Independent information on radiation, uranium and radiation safety is available from
Department of Energy (USA): http://www.energy.gov/ne/nuclear-fuel-facts-uranium
- Environmental Protection Agency (USA): http://www.epa.gov/rpdweb00/radionuclides/uranium.html
IAEA, 2009, World Distribution of Uranium Deposits (UDEPO) with Uranium Deposit Classification, IAEA-TECDOC-1629
McKay, A.D. & Miezitis, Y., 2001. Australia’s uranium resources, geology and development of deposits. AGSO – Geoscience Australia, Mineral Resource Report 1.
Skirrow, R.G., Jaireth, S., Huston, D.L., Bastrakov, E.N., Schofield, A., van der Wielen, S.E., Barnicoat, A.C., 2009. Uranium mineral systems: Processes, exploration criteria and a new deposit framework. Geoscience Australia Record 2009/20.
United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR):http://www.unscear.org/unscear/en/faq.html
Environment and community
What is Alkane's approach to environmental impact and safety?
Alkane believes that keeping our staff and the community safe and minimising our impact on the environment is paramount. Alkane is committed to meeting or exceeding the requirements of all laws and regulations in relation to the environment and occupational health and safety. Alkane seeks to minimise the impact of its activities at all times, including by the selection of innovative engineering solutions for use at the DP.
In assessing the potential impact of the DP, Alkane has taken a conservative approach. As a result, the predicted impacts presented in the EIS represent ‘worst-case’ emission levels. In most instances, the actual emission levels will be much less and therefore well below the criteria or standards set by NSW, Australia and international environmental protection authorities.
For more detail please read Responses to the Public Submissions to the DP Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
How does Alkane protect its local environment?
Alkane Resources is committed to safe environmental practices and to the delivery of biodiversity improvement at all our mining sites. We engage in a range of sustainability projects at each of our project sites, including biobank assessment, offset planting, the development of comprehensive environmental management plans and research into, and protection of, local plant and animals species. Visit our Sustainability page for more information.
What was Alkane’s record in environment, safety and rehabilitation at Peak Hill gold mine which operated from 1996 to 2005.
Alkane has left the mining leases at Peak Hill in safer (given all the historic unfenced voids) and improved environmental condition from pre 1996 environment. Whilst the landform has changed significantly with the establishment of five open cut voids during mining, the site is now safely fenced and managed for tourism (Open Cut Experience) and biodiversity values. There has been an increase in biodiversity across the mining leases, which has been driven by stable final landforms, rehabilitation plantings, weed control and pest animal control.
What if the company went bankrupt? What would happen to site rehabilitation?
The NSW Division of Mineral Resources & Energy (DRE) requires an environmental bond over the mining leases, which is calculated to account for the rehabilitation of the disturbance footprint of the mine. The bond needs to contain sufficient money to cover the complete rehabilitation of the mining lease. A mining lease will not be granted without DRE agreement on the amount of the environmental bond.
Who’s responsible for rehabilitation later – is this covered in the EIS?
Alkane is responsible for the rehabilitation. The rehabilitation is conducted to the standard detailed in the Mining Operations Plan approved by DRE before the commencement of mining. There will be limited possibilities for progressive rehabilitation at DP and as previously described any rehabilitation liability will be covered by the rehabilitation bond held by DRE. Notwithstanding all soil stockpiles will be rehabilitated and managed as part of the Australian Strategic Materials Ltd (ASM) owned farming estate.
Will Alkane ever try and mine in the biodiversity offset?
No. The ore body is discreet (marked open cut on the plan below) and outside of the biodiversity offset area. There are no other mineable resources contained within the biodiversity offset area. Through drilling we know where the ore body starts and finishes. There are strict government laws to protect biodiversity areas.
The mine is only a small section of the overall project (see Open Cut) which focuses on the high value add processing of finished products.
Biodiversity around the mine is supposed to be protected. How will it be protected /preserved? What guarantee is there?
The development consent will condition the approval to secure, manage and fund a biodiversity offset area. The condition will require that the biodiversity offset area is secured to prohibit any activities other tan those included in an approved biodiversity offset management plan.
A Property Vegetation Plan (PVP) for the purpose of conservation is the preferred methodology of ASM for securing and managing the biodiversity offset area. The PVP will be registered with Local Land Services or, alternatively, another form of Conservation Agreement will be registered with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. This covenant will cover all of the biodiversity offset areas. This covenant will be in perpetuity on title so that if the property was ever sold then the new owners would still be bound by a covenant which will have numerous prescribed management actions to ensure that the land is managed for its conservation value.
Will you put the mine wastes back in the open cut pit eventually?
It is not feasible to make such a commitment at this point in time as it is hoped that the open cut will have an operating life well beyond this development application. There is potential to find a reuse or alternative disposal method as technologies improve over the next twenty years. The current proposal has waste stored above the water table and this is considerably easier to manage and control than in pit disposed tailings.
Clearing for the open cut mine and associated infrastructure will be impacting on a multitude of animal species? How can that be justified?
The ecological assessment of the DP by specialist ecological consultants has been exhaustive in the level of study undertaken. The biodiversity offset strategy will ultimately deliver a net conservation benefit. While there will undoubtedly be a short term impact on the flora and fauna occupying habitat to be disturbed, the biodiversity offset area will provide significant benefits to local flora and fauna.
- A significant proportion of the offset area is currently managed for grazing and cropping, and this will be actively converted to grassy woodland habitat.
- Through this change in land use and community structure, direct linkages of remnant habitat found on Dowd’s Hill, Wambangalang Creek and Benolong Road will be created.
- A specific focus for conservation efforts at DP will be the pink-tailed worm-lizard with large areas of known and potential habitat for this species included.
These changes to the local setting will deliver benefits to a wide number of species and potentially open opportunities for biodiversity enhanced through additional tree planting and natural recruitment.
The Peak Hill Gold Mine is good example of what Alkane has achieved with rehabilitation of its mining leases. The diversity of trees, shrubs, birds and mammals has dramatically increased between 1996 and 2014.
157 hectares of land (footprint of waste rock emplacement and solid residue storage facilities) will no longer be suitable for agriculture – what are you going to do about it?
These areas once shaped and rehabilitated will be managed for their biodiversity conservation value. Agricultural land is being preserved where possible given the physical development. An Agricultural Impact Statement has been completed (Appendix 9 of the EIS) and confirms the impact of the DP on local agricultural resources and enterprises would not be significant.
How much water will the project use each year?
At the time of the EIS submission Alkane proposed to use 4,000 Megalitres of water per year. There are 649,941 Megalitres of water held under water licences in the Macquarie/Cudgegong Rivers. Approximately 40% of the volume of those licences is held by the NSW and Federal Governments as “environmental water”, that is the amount of water determined by the governments required to be released for a “healthy” river system.
Over the last 7 years at ANSTO we have been constantly refining the process and trialling new processes for recycling water.
Agriculture uses approximately 40% of the water available in High Security licences. Water used for irrigation based agriculture in the Macquarie Valley, e.g. cotton farming, use 6-8 ML of water per hectare per year. The water required to process 1 million tonnes of DP ore, if used for cotton farming, would irrigate 500ha to 666ha of cotton.
A detailed report on Water Availability, Purchasing and Potential Impacts is contained in Appendix 7 of the EIS.
How does Alkane source water for project sites?
There is no ‘new’ water in NSW, which means that water usage is governed by the distribution of water licenses.
Dubbo Project – Alkane will purchase water licences from existing operators to fulfil the DP’s annual 5000ML anticipated demand. Much of the water onsite is recycled and re-used. The use of license-acquired water will have no impact on the town’s water supply. Alkane will continue to improve its water efficiency and reduce, reuse and recycle.
Tomingley Gold Project – Alkane has purchased a water licence from local irrigator and is permitted to use 1000ML of bore water per year from the Woodlands alluvial aquifer. Much of the water onsite is recycled and re-used. Pumping tests indicate that the use of this water will have minimal impact on surrounding properties.
Where will the water come from?
The water will come from the Macquarie River. ASM has acquired water licences in accordance with the rules of the Water Sharing Plan for the Macquarie and Cudgegong Regulated Rivers Water Source. Licences are a tradable asset and are purchased from willing sellers. Water can be purchased on the temporary water market.
ASM will also identify, assess (after confirming a sustainable supply is available) and obtain licences for groundwater in the Upper Macquarie Alluvial Aquifer. The alluvial aquifer is also subject to a water sharing plan and ASM will only be licenced to extract an amount of groundwater that does not impact adversely on other groundwater users.
What happens if there is a drought? Will the mine get water and not the town?
Town water supplies are allocated water preferentially over other users, even to holders of High Security water licences. Whilst High Security water licences generally have a full allocation, in the event of extended drought or other extraordinary circumstances, the allocation available to High Security water licence holders may be reduced while supplies are maintained to town water supplies.
Allocations to General Security water licences will vary depending on the water available in Burrendong Dam. The current season has only 2% of the allocation available. Water accounts are reset on 1 July each year. There is every chance no general security water will be available in 2015 unless Burrendong Dam gets a major inflow of water.
Have Alkane factored in Climate change or rainfall? Effects on groundwater recharge.
Water is a finite resource. There is no ‘new’ water available to mining companies. Mining has to compete with other industries and water uses for access to water on the open market. Water has been made by government into a tradable asset.
Water sharing plans administered by NSW Office of Water are monitored to ensure that water extraction levels do not tip towards unsustainability. If aquifers and rivers do not get recharged there is an ability for NOW to reduce all allocations to ensure aquifers are not damaged by over-extraction.
What are the chances of the local groundwater or drinking water being contaminated? Or flood damage?
Negligible. The risk of the DP contaminating surface and groundwater was identified very early in the project assessment and has been mitigated through leading practise engineering design and controls.
Leak detection and recovery systems will be in place for the liquid and solid residue storage facilities. The projects solid and liquid waste storage facilities are designed to accommodate a one in ten thousand year rain event.
A site Water Management Plan which includes an erosion and sediment control plan will be implemented as part of the first phase of construction earthworks.
What will be the environmental impact of the Dubbo Project and how will it be managed?
The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) lays out the potential environmental impacts of the DP. It also explains how Alkane Resources is planning to manage those impacts.
The EIS is a technical document. A series of plain language fact sheets have been developed to assist non-technical audiences in understanding the key issues. For more information on your area of interest, please download the relevant fact sheet below:
• Download the EIS Explained – Transport fact sheet
• Download the EIS Explained – Water and Waste fact sheet
• Download the EIS Explained – Emissions incl Dust fact sheet
You’re going to transport hazardous material around Dubbo?
Some of the reagents required for the DP will be classified as Dangerous Goods and will be subject to strict rules and regulation for transportation on the state network of roads and storage on site. All goods will be transported by contractually committed, appropriately licensed and experienced operators.
Dangerous goods (petroleum, anhydrous ammonia, explosives, acid etc) already travel through Dubbo daily. This notwithstanding, and responding to issues raised over transport of dangerous goods following exhibition of the EIS, ASM commissioned a Traffic Hazard Assessment which concluded that any hazards associated with the transport of reagents and products could be appropriately managed. It is further noted that as part of the licensing requirements for transport of dangerous goods under the Australian Dangerous Goods Code, a transporter must prepare a detailed route specific transport risk assessment. This will be undertaken by the transporter for each reagent once supplier agreements are in place.
How often will there be blasting?
The drill and blast operations at DP is described on page 2-42 of the EIS. A detailed drill and blast schedule is yet to be agreed but it likely blasting may occur as infrequently as once per week. A video which shows blasting at the Tomingley Gold Mine which is similar in scale to anticipated blasting at the Dubbo Project is available to view here.
Mining operations will be during daylight hours Monday to Friday and until midday Saturday.
Does the air quality report consider blasting?
Yes Section 4.3 AIR QUALITY of the EIS considers the dust and other emission levels predicted from drilling and blasting.
The Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Assessment prepared by Pacific Environment Limited , which forms Part 2 of the Specialist Consultant Studies Compendium, provides more detail on Page 2-40 of SCSC.
Is there any consideration about radioactivity in the air? Dust? And how is Alkane dealing with this?
Yes there is consideration. Refer to EIS Section 2.10 Air Emissions Management, EIS Section 4 ASSESSMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF KEY ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES 4.3 Air Quality and 4.4 Radiation
And refer to EIS Explained for Community Fact Sheets – Air emissions incl. dust http://www.alkane.com.au/images/pdf/Community/EIS_Explained_-_Emissions_incl_Dust2.pdf
Are the levels of radioactivity at the DP a concern?
In short no. The radiation levels are extremely low and the expected dose over a whole year at the closest residences to the mine will be 0.03mSv which is less than one chest x-ray or a flight from Sydney to London.
The illustration below shows relative radiation levels for different activities
Radioactivity is naturally all around us. It‘s in the bricks in our houses, in the food we eat and in the earth and rocks beneath our feet throughout the landscape of the Central West of NSW. Rocks at the DP already possess low levels of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM). These rocks have been weathering within the local environment for millions of years without causing any measurable harm.
Animals have grazed across the Toongi Trachyte for tens of thousands of years and will continue to do so.
Is radiation an issue at the Dubbo Project (DP)?
The ore that will be mined by the DP is weakly radioactive with traces of uranium (100 ppm) and thorium (350 ppm). Radiation will be measured using standard radiation monitors to protect both workers at the mine site and the surrounding environment.
The tailings (leftover processed ore) are secured in a residue storage facility that is completely separate from the local environment. Radioactive waste products (uranium and thorium) will be neutralised with limestone and stored in double lined evaporation ponds and will be of less concentration of the ore. Uranium will not be recovered or stored.
How does Alkane keep workers safe from radiation?
Alkane has a zero harm policy and is committed to the safety of our workers. Personal dosimeters will be worn by any staff member where there are higher than normal levels of radiation, ensuring that staff are not exposed to greater than the allowable levels set by the radiation regulator.
What is the risk of radioactive material from the DP contaminating the areas outside of the mine site?
Rocks at the DP already possess low levels of naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM). These rocks have been weathering within local environment (refer to radiometric images below) over thousands of years without causing any harm. However, any naturally occurring radioactive material removed from the DP products will be diluted with limestone to stabilise the waste streams, lowering radiation levels below those of the natural environment. The waste is stored onsite in double lined long term storage facilities. No radioactive material will be transported away from the DP site.
Concerns around radioactive dust are also unfounded. Specialist environmental consultants have undertaken a series of modelling projects using data from baseline air quality monitoring collected from 10 locations around the project site. This enabled us to understand how much dust will be produced and how it will be distributed around the DP site, and confirm that there will be minimal impact.
A detailed review of potential exposure for workers, the general public and local biota is provided in the EIS and Response to Submissions. In summary, on assessment by a radiation expert commissioned by ASM, the risk of adverse impact to those living in the immediate vicinity was determined to be extremely small given that the maximum likely dose of radiation (generated by the DP) would be <0.03mS/year. In Australia the average annual dose of radiation received by an adult is approximately 1.5-2mSv/yr (Radiation Health &Safety Advisory Council (2005). Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) in Australia: Issues for Discussion 17 August 2005. Report prepared by the CEO of ARPANSA (p. 8)).
For more detail please read
What are the levels of naturally occurring radioactive material around Dubbo and the Central West?
Does Alkane intend to recover or produce uranium?
Alkane has no interest in the recovery and production of uranium for numerous reasons.
- the considerable additional national and international regulatory requirements for nuclear safeguards
- the additional capital requirements and process flowsheet development costs
- mining/producing uranium in NSW is illegal and may remain so for 10+ years
How will zirconia be transported from the DP site? Will the transport process allow zirconia dust to contaminate the local environment?
Concerns around zirconia dust contamination are unfounded. All products produced at the DP site will be transported in sealed containers that are clearly marked to show their contents. It will not be possible for zirconia dust, or other co-products, to be lost during the transport process. Given the high value of these products, Alkane will continue to take significant measures to protect against even the most minimal losses.
Zirconia is a stable, non-reactive, non-toxic, non-radioactive material that is used in a wide range of applications including electronics, autocatalysts (for emissions minimisation), dentistry to produce fillings and artificial teeth and for internal bone replacements, and a s a drying agent in paints (replacing lead).
Detailed environmental and radiation questions with reference to the relevant EIS section
Where will the DP be sourcing high quality clay to build their geomembranes with?
Placement of LRSF, SRSF and SEC were chosen after consideration of subsoil parameters. That is, the expectation is that the clays will be obtained from in situ sources. This is noted in s188.8.131.52, s184.108.40.206 & s220.127.116.11 when discussing construction of LRSF, SRSF and SEC.
The geotechnical investigation is currently underway. If the investigation and testing reveals an issue with either the quality or quantity of clay, we will source suitable commercially available products as a substitute.
What is the longevity of the 1.5mm HDPE liners?
In excess of 260 years.
I'm trying to understand - you will have pumps located in each of the cells of your LRSFs and SRSFs?
The liquid wastes will be pumped from processing plant to LSRFs. There will be no requirement for pumps in each LRSF cell - simply poly pipe outlet. Solid waste will be transported from processing plant via conveyor belt to the SRSF.
The groundwater report - the runoff coefficient of 11% - where is the rest of the runoff going?
That means 89% is retained by vegetation and soils. 11% of rainfall is expected to make it to the Macquarie River as run off. Section 18.104.22.168 of SCSC Part 4 (SEEC).
Of the uranium being dug out - is 100% of it going into the LRSF?
95% goes to LRSF, 5% to SRSF. (Table 2.11 page 2-66 EIS)
To build up the SRSF wall heights are you using just clay or anything else?
We will use the clay and rock local to SRSF. Cut and fill design. See EIS p. 2-123 & 2-124.
If I understand correctly, you're not intending to cover the crests between cells of the LRSF with HDPE liner?
Correct. See EIS Pgs 2-74 to 2-76.
How will the compacting of the dome clay covering over the SECs & SRSFs occur - are bulldozers driving over the top?
Bulldozers, scrapers, graders and dump trucks will compact the clay cap (EIS s2.17.6).
I have concerns about dust from dried SRSF waste. What will prevent it from blowing away?
We expect the dried solid waste to crust and would add binder agents if necessary and/or use sprays under if seasonal conditions warrant. This is a standard industry practice.
Have you estimated the cost of closure and rehabilitating the mine and how much will that be?
A rehabilitation cost estimate will be provided to NSW Department of Resources and Energy (DRE) as part of the Mining Lease Application.
The dozers compacting the SRSF filter cake - how is it ensured that any residue on the dozers doesn't get onto unprotected areas outside the SRSFs?
Earthmoving equipment can be washed down (using mobile wash down equipment) before leaving SRSF
Won't the dozers break the HDPE lining?
No. Dozers will not drive directly on HDPE linings. Once there is 50cm of solid waste over the liners they will be safe from damage by mobile equipment
If the filter cake is so finely grained, how will it not blow around in the wind on a hot dry dusty Dubbo summer?
As noted above, we expect the dried solid waste to crust and would add binder agents if necessary and/or use sprays under if seasonal conditions warrant. A conservative estimate of emissions reductions provided by surface crusting and binding of 30% has been applied (EIS Section 4.3.7, SCSC Part 2 (PEL) p.2-131). Wind erosion from surface of SRSF, after applying emissions reduction factor, accounted for in the dispersion model with compliance with dust criteria predicted. The dust is not toxic nor dangerous.
At rehabilitation, are the SRSFs & SECs covered over the top in liner or just their bottom?
No HDPE covers. HDPE only below SRSF and SECs. See EIS pp. 2-123 & 2-124. They are covered with rock and soil to encourage regrowth of vegetation.
How will you know of a leakage from the lower liner if the leak detection system for the SRSF is only for the upper layer?
Piezometers in drill holes placed around the structure will be monitored for change in water level or quality indicative of leakage from the SRSF (EIS s22.214.171.124).
Can the DP use flue-gas desulfurisation to remove more of its SO2 emissions?
In response to community concerns raised during Public Exhibition a caesium catalyst and/or scrubber system would be added to reduce the SO2 in-stack emission rate by at least 30% (RTS s4.4.2, pp. 49-50). By reducing the SO2 in-stack emission rate, compliance with all criteria at all receivers is predicted.
Who is going to monitor the SRSFs and SECs to make sure there is no seepage once the mine is closed?
Final rehab of the mine may be in 20 years or more time. Monitoring and reporting to regulators will continue at the expense of the proponent until DRE are satisfied that the mine has met its closure criteria. It is likely the piezometers will be accessible by telemetry.
How many years would monitoring continue past mine closure?
As long as it takes to demonstrate that the rehabilitated mine site is stable and sustainable (measured through Landscape Function Analysis or some other tool) as determined by DRE.
What would happen if the bottom liner of the SEC is breached?
Any leak would be picked up by monitoring piezometers.
There doesn't seem to be a remedy in place for that?
In that unlikely event of a leak a drain downslope of the external embankments would collect water and pump it back to processing plant (EIS pg 2-81).
The bunding of trenches from the plant to the LRSF is to be made of concrete?
No, it won’t be made of concrete. The EIS stated that piping across open ground would be within bunded trenches. The in-situ materials will be compacted to minimise the permeability of the bunding. Where such trenches are not feasible due to stormwater issues, the design currently under consideration is for a buried pipeline with secondary containment comprising a HDPE geomembrane and a HDPE flownet within compacted backfill. This system would be fitted with monitor points to detect leaks within the pipeline.
I'm trying to understand your infographic, DP will produce 1.1ug/m^3 radioactive dust, natural background is 16ug/m^3. So the DP site is cleaner than natural background?
The infographic has been amended to provide better clarity based on your question. The ‘radioactivity’ levels of naturally occurring dust and dust from DP related disturbance is equivalent as it is the same dust. The relative contribution of radioactivity reflects the volume of dust from the DP when compared to naturally generated dust.
Is there any possibility of overflow of the residue facilities in the event of a high rainfall event or a series of high rainfall events?
No. Designed for 1:10,000 year rain event. EIS Pg 2-73 to 2-74.
Has there been any modelling on the flow of air pollution and dust from your emission stacks and extraction activities/ROM pad respectively? I.e. where it's predicted to go and eventually land where?
Yes. EIS Section 4.3.7 Pgs 4-64 to 4-78
28. The SRSF, LRSF, and SEC will all have two layers of HDPE? If not, why not?
LSRF has only a single HDPE liner (classified as general liquid waste). Solid waste is classified as ’restricted solid waste’ and requires a double liner or equivalent. Accumulated salt is classified as restricted solid waste and has a double HDPE liner. Design of waste storages to comply with Environmental Guidelines for Solid Waste Landfills EPA 1996. EAR pg 17
The Process Water pond - how big is it, what is in it, and what is it lined with?
The Process (raw) water pond is currently sized at 90 m x 90 m x 4 m deep.
HDPE lined-to contain water from the Macquarie River (and any recycled water from various site storages)
What parts of the mine are being watered down to suppress dust? ROM Pad? Anywhere else?
Haul road to pit, hard stand areas, open cut and stockpile areas (EIS Pg 4-63).
What happens with rain washoff from the ROM pad, conveyor belts etc?
Captured in the dirty water management system and re-used in the processing plant (EIS s126.96.36.199.6).
Are conveyor belts covered?
All rain water runoff in the plant is captured in the site drainage sump from where it is recycled in the process. All conveyor belts are covered after the crusher where material is sized to 8 mm.
I couldn't find mention of security for the mine. It is a large area to protect, and vandalism/sabotage could result in damage to the environment. I'd like to be reassured that the DP will have a high level of security.
There will be high levels of security of the mine 24/7. There will be security fencing enclosing much of the infrastructure. There will be strict control of visitor access to any ASM owned property. See EIS Section 2.16 Safety and Security Pg 2-98.
I can see on your infographic the PM10 figures, but where are the PM2.5 figures?
The infographic is intended to provide a relatively broad overview of the whole project for community rather than as a summary of all the detail of the EIS. The PM2.5 figures are in the EIS Pg 4-68.
The water you use for dust suppression around the mine, and washing down of vehicles - will it be pure H2O?
Water from the process water dam which is irrigation quality (same quality as used by neighbouring farms) water will be used.
At mine closure, what will become of the open pit?
The 20 year pit will not reach the water table. It would be a typical dry open cut void (EIS p. 2-124). ). Over time it should self-vegetate (see Peak Hill pits)
Will it fill with water and become toxic?
No. The only water to temporarily accumulate would be rainfall runoff. The surrounding geology is not acid forming and hence trace metals (if present) cannot be mobilised from sediment. Pooled rainwater would evaporate.
Track record and future operations. It seems your Tomingley and Peak Hill operations have never had a breach or pollution incident. Is that correct?
Alkane has never received a penalty notice from the EPA for any infringement of Environment Protection Licence conditions.
In the EIS it says there is an allowable sediment runoff of 50mg of something?? Could you elaborate on what this sediment consists of?
Total suspended soils are generally clay particles, fine sediment (erosion product of rocks) and organic material (plant matter),
Does Alkane really think it's a good idea to have farm animals grazing around the mine?
Yes. Animals have grazed across the Toongi Trachyte for several million years.
Are you planning to sell the animals for human consumption?
Yes. It is no different to the current farming situation with animals grazing on the properties that cover the deposit.
Will there be dust emission sensors at sites surrounding the perimeter of the mine? Yes there will be multiple monitoring sites around and well outside the mine perimeter (EIS s4.3.8).
Have you got prior evidence that the HDPE liners you will be using will protect the ground specifically from the waste contents of a rare earths mine?
HDPE liners have a long successful track record in lining tailings facilities for a wide range of mining processes and government operated waste facilities. The tailings from the DP are not corrosive and would have less impact than other mines. HDPE liners have been successfully used and demonstrated as appropriate for full environmental containment in these applications.
In [http://www.alkane.com.au/index.php/faq/environment-community] DP states that uranium will not be "recovered or stored". Confused. So what will happen to the uranium?
Uranium is not separated out (recovered) as product of the processing or stored as a product. The trace amounts of uranium along with other waste products are diluted with salts and/or neutralised with limestone which makes it even lower in concentration that the original ore and no longer classified as radioactive and is dispersed within all the other waste materials.
What happens to the dust created by the ore being crushed? Is it captured or emitted?
There is a dust collection system at all transfer points in the crushing system. Captured dust is conveyed to the mill on covered conveyors. The mill feed system recycles all dust into the roaster feed where it is wetted and processed.
The radiation dose per annum for DP workers - 20mSv. So a worker is allowed 20mSv p.a. for the life of the mine - say 20 years? So a total of 400mSv?
ARPANSA regulations dose limit for radiation workers is 20 mSv per year, over 5 years, with no more than 50mSv in any one year.
The maximum dose for DP personnel working onsite is within the processing area and is predicted to be 9mSv/y (less than half the allowable dose limit). Refer to EIS s188.8.131.52 and SCSC Part 3 (JRHC).
Are the waste products in the residue facilities flammable?
What will be the speed limit set for all vehicles etc in the DP? Daytime
40km/hr (20km/hr at night across wider project site).
Has the DP looked into planting trees as windbreaks? The site looks quite open.
Yes. Trees and shrubs will be planted as part of biodiversity enhancement and as visibility screens (see EIS s2.17.4 and Figures 2.17 to 2.20). Alkane has done this at Peak Hill and is doing so at Tomingley.
Please confirm whether or not the DP is expected to release into the atmosphere per day: Approx. 2,000 tonnes slightly radioactive dust; 2 tonnes SO2; 2 tonnes NO2; 500kg SO3; 500kg HCl
No, The quoted figures have been generated based on an incorrect extrapolation of data by a Dubbo citizen from the air quality model dust inventory. The inference that the public would be exposed to this quantum of dust in total is wrong. This misinterpretation of the data is discussed in s184.108.40.206 of the Response to Submission (p. 106).
I understand it would cost approx $30m to dispose of the LRSF salt. What process does the disposal of the salt entail that makes it so costly?
Alternatives for the disposal of salt considered transporting salt to an alternative licenced waste facility. See EIS Pg 6-6 in Section 6.1.5.
Washdown of vehicles exiting the mine, will that entail a wash of the entire vehicle or just wheels?
Only vehicles that are exposed to hazardous substances within the facility will require complete washdown. Other vehicles would be subject to a wheel wash. The mining fleet will not be leaving the site once established on site.
I am also concerned with the cutting and removal of Aboriginal Scar Trees. Is this absolutely necessary?
Yes. Registered Aboriginal Parties have been engaged during the project design phase. The most significant heritage sites are contained within the biodiversity offset areas and will be protected in perpetuity (EIS s220.127.116.11).
EAR= NSW P&E Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Report (Sep 2014)
How does Alkane support the local community?
At Alkane Resources, we see ourselves as being part of the communities where we operate by providing employment opportunities, shopping locally, engaging with the local population, contributing to local community services and taking a vested interest in local Aboriginal issues. For more information, visit our communities’ web page.
Need more information
We are constantly updating the FAQ section with answers to your questions.
For more information visit www.alkane.com.au and http://www.alkane.com.au/index.php/faq
Independent information on radiation, uranium and radiation safety is available from
- Department of Energy (USA): http://www.energy.gov/ne/nuclear-fuel- facts-uranium
Environmental Protection Agency (USA): http://www.epa.gov/rpdweb00/radionuclides/uranium.html
- IAEA, 2009, World Distribution of Uranium Deposits (UDEPO) with Uranium Deposit Classification, IAEA-TECDOC-1629
- McKay, A.D. & Miezitis, Y., 2001. Australia’s uranium resources, geology and development of deposits. AGSO – Geoscience Australia, Mineral Resource Report 1.
- Skirrow, R.G., Jaireth, S., Huston, D.L., Bastrakov, E.N., Schofield, A., van der Wielen, S.E., Barnicoat, A.C., 2009. Uranium mineral systems: Processes, exploration criteria and a new deposit framework. Geoscience Australia Record 2009/20.