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‘DARWIN HARBOUR IS SACRED’ - NT’S PEAK ENVIRONMENT BODY THROWS ITS SUPPORT BEHIND NTEPA’S APPROACH TO MIDDLE ARM DEVELOPMENT

31.05.2021

Media release

‘Darwin Harbour is sacred’ - NT’s peak environment body throws its support behind NTEPA’s approach to Middle Arm development

The Environment Centre NT (ECNT) has today thrown its support behind the NTEPA’s cautious approach to approving a proposed minerals processing facility in the middle of Darwin Harbour, which it says shows our environment laws are working.

TNG Limited proposes to construct a magnetite processing facility at Middle Arm in Darwin Harbour, to produce vanadium, titanium and iron products. TNG originally submitted an environmental impact statement (EIS) where it proposed to dump 12 billion litres of toxic wastewater per year into Darwin Harbour. TNG also proposed to draw an amount of water equal to 25 percent of Darwin’s yearly consumption from the city’s supplies.

Following strong opposition from industry and peak bodies, including ECNT, TNG backed away from its original proposal, submitting a Supplement to the EIS with some significant changes. These changes included a plan to construct a water recycling plant, and reduce water use by 65 percent.

While ECNT commends TNG for responding to community and industry concerns regarding the proposed waste discharges, a number of significant environmental problems remain. For example, the amount of toxic waste solids produced by the project is 527,000 tonnes per year, but there is no plan disclosed for how these wastes will be disposed of. There are also considerable risks associated with air quality, and an increase in air emissions that is equivalent to more than 7% of the NT’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

ECNT’s Co-Director Kirsty Howey said, “TNG’s proposal to develop minerals processing facility in Darwin Harbour has been extremely controversial due to its potential impacts on Darwin Harbour.” “Darwin Harbour is sacred to Territorians, for fishing, boating, tourism and our pearling and barramundi farming industries. Territorians want a pristine harbour and clean air to breathe, and won’t put up with slipshod development in this most precious of places.”

“While TNG has made some changes, there are still big problems with the project. Over 500,000 tonnes of solids will be produced at the processing plant, yet we don’t know where TNG will put this toxic waste. Air quality national criteria will clearly be exceeded. And the greenhouse gas emissions from the Project are over 1 million tonnes per annum, more than 7% of the NT’s entire annual greenhouse gas emissions.”

“The NTEPA has reflected community and industry concerns by very sensibly requesting further information from TNG about these unacceptable risks to Darwin Harbour. It’s a sign our environmental laws are working, and the NTEPA is listening to Territorians.”

“It’s also an alarm for developers with plans to set up shop in Darwin Harbour that Territorians won’t stand for projects that will ruin the lifestyle we cherish. We know that there are big plans for industrial development at Middle Arm, including to support toxic petrochemicals and plastics production using fracked gas from the Beetaloo, and to bring the Barossa project online (with its mammoth greenhouse gas 2 2 emissions). Territorians won’t put up with the pollution of Darwin Harbour that will be caused by these developments.”

TNG’s ASX announcement about the NTEPA’s request for further information can be found here.

Media contact Kirsty Howey: 0488 928 811

Download full media release.