Mixed feelings over stockpiling

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Mingenew residents are divided on Gindalbie Metals’ proposal to stockpile iron ore in the townsite.

The miner last week submitted an application for planning approval to Mingenew Shire for two iron ore stockpiles from its Karara iron ore mine on industrial land adjacent to the railway line.

Gindalbie plans to cart ore into Geraldton via Mingenew from September to April while upgrading of the Morawa to Geraldton line is being done.

Delegates from Gindalbie brought the proposal forward at the shire’s last council meeting on August 17 and a public comment period began yesterday.

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Residents voiced concerns about potential dust and noise pollution, interference with CBH’s operations, possible contamination of grain stacks and water supplies and an impact on town aesthetics.

Mingenew farmer Ben Cobley was among those preparing a public submission against the miner’s proposal.

Dust and noise pollution were Mr Cobley’s main concerns, as well as the congestion the Gindalbie operations could cause during harvest.

“The proposed stockpiles are within proximity of a CBH lupin stack, so CBH must be concerned about contamination, ” he said.

“As a farmer, I’m concerned whether marketers are worried about contamination from iron ore dust in CBH stacks.

“We’re going to have a big harvest out here and who gets priority over the rail line?”

Mingenew Shire councillor Michelle Bagley said she had some initial reservations about Gindalbie’s plans, but her fears were allayed at the meeting.

“I am not happy with it (the stockpile) being where it is, but I understand why it has to be there, ” she said.

“They have addressed our issues with dust and noise suppression, so we are happy with it going through as long as we don’t get a lot of community objection.”

Ms Bagley said many local businesses were pleased with the mining company’s plan because it would bring business to the town.

Gindalbie Metals said it would put shade cloths over the stockpiles to prevent dust and would only operate between 7am and 7pm six days a week.

The miner said the main product loaded at Mingenew would be lump ore which created minimal dust.

Ms Bagley said the miner assured the council it would not interfere with harvest because it would work around the grain carrier.

She said tests would be conducted into CBH’s lupin stacks to check for traces of iron ore.

Mingenew farmer Peter Horwood, an avid protestor against an application by Gindalbie to draw water from the Parmelia aquifer, supported the plan.

“Karara should be commended for taking trucks off the road, ” he said.

“I am not against mining, I am just against Karara taking our water.”

Department of Water is yet to come to a decision on Gindalbie’s water licence application.

Gindalbie Metals corporate affairs and investor relations manager Michael Weir said the company wanted to stockpile ore at Mingenew to keep its operations going while the Morawa line was upgraded.

He said the miner would only go ahead with the plan “after full consultation with all stakeholders and only after securing all the necessary approvals”.

The Mingenew Shire is expected to make a decision on Karara’s application at its next council meeting on September 21.

The public consultation period closes on September 9.

CBH refused to comment.

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