BY MATTHEW KELLY ENVIRONMENT REPORTER
The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities approved the project with conditions on December 22.
The mine’s production will now rise from 12.3 million tonnes to 20 million tonnes, with maximum annual output rising from 1.8 million tonnes to 3 million tonnes.
The project, which has already been approved by the state government, was referred for assessment under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation in May.
Environmentalists raised concerns about the potential for increased saline run-off from the mine on the giant barred frog, which is found around the Mammy Johnsons River.
Concerns were also raised about the project’s impact on the habitat of the swift parrot.
Conditions of the approval state that the drilling activities associated with the expansion must not occur within areas of known or potential giant barred frog habitat.
The mine must also conduct baseline frog surveys prior to conducting irrigation activities.
Within a year of the project, the mine must permanently protect and secure an environmental offset area to compensate for disturbance to the habitat of the frog and parrot.