The Western Australia Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has recommended the environmental approval of Lynas' life-of-mine proposal for its Mount Weld rare earths project. The proposed expansion by Lynas Rare Earths' (ASX:LYC)
subsidiary aims to increase the development area to 2802 hectares, extending the operation's lifespan by up to 30 years. This decision comes despite concerns about transitioning to renewables.
The expansion plan includes the construction of multiple new buildings, such as a hybrid power station, worker accommodations, and additional tailings water recycling infrastructure. EPA chair Matthew Tonts emphasised that assessing the foreseeable life of the proposal has yielded a better environmental outcome.
Tonts stated, "Adopting this approach meant the EPA was able to undertake the assessment with full knowledge of the existing and proposed Mount Weld operations. This is one of the first projects to provide the EPA with life-of-mine insight that allows confident assessment of the combined and cumulative impacts."
According to the EPA, Lynas has been actively researching and designing tailings storage solutions at the site since Mount Weld's operations began in 2007. This effort has resulted in a 70% improvement in water recovery and a 50% reduction in tailings and mine waste volume.
The EPA's report is now open for a three-week public appeal period, closing on November 30, 2023. On Monday, Lynas shares fell by 2.45% to $6.91.