An Australian mining company has had its application to pump an extra 1,651 mega litres of water from a local river rejected by the Northern Territory’s water department.
This comes as Australia’s largest water license was allegedly regranted to Singleton Station farm, located 380 kilometres north of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, after considerations were heard in the Supreme Court, NT news reported. The farm is reportedly set to become one of Australia’s largest fruit and vegetable operations.
Based in the Northern Territory, mining company Australian Ilmenite Resources had applied for the maximum quantity of 3300 mega-litres of water per year to be pumped from the Roper River for beneficial mining activities.
According to a water extraction licence decision from the Northern Territory’s Controller of Water Resources, Australian Ilmenite Resources was previously granted a licence to extract 1649 megaliths of water from the Roper River. This license was granted.
However, a second application to pump 1651 megalitres, which totals the maximum entitlement of 3300 megalitres, was refused under the territory’s Environmental Protection Act.
“This is as a result of the increased extraction volume to have the potential to cause a significant impact on the broader environment, beyond those considerations I have for a water resource,” said Joanne Townsend, Controller of Water Resources, in the water extraction licence decision.
According to the Act, the second application to pump the additional water won’t be considered until it has been referred to the Northern Territory Environmental Protection Authority.
Concerns over the size of the proposed licence, and its impact on the environment and on the Indigenous community of Ngukurr have also been an ongoing issue, reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
Ngukurr resident Winston Thompson told the ABC that while he welcomed the decision, he wanted more water flow monitoring from the NT government as many people within the area use the water.
Mining Expansion Requires More Water
In its application, Australian Ilmenite Resources said that it will require 3300 megalitres of water to “achieve 100,000 to 120,000 tonnes per annum production.”
“The mine is currently running at a water consumption rate of 4.3 ML/day to deliver a productivity rate of approximately 150 tonnes per day (50,000 tonnes per annum),” the company said.
It also said that it needs approximately 4,500 tonnes per month to cover basic operating costs “and about double that rate to provide a buffer from market variations and to recover the original capital investment.”
Australian Ilmenite Resources and Northern Territory’s Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security have been contacted for comment.
This year, the ilmenite mine has exported 17,732 tonnes of ilmenite to customers in China and Japan via the Darwin Port, reported the ABC.