The site has been highly modified for industrial use for nearly 70 years. The site and surrounding land are zoned ‘industrial’ and its current and most recent use is industrial. As a result, there are only small patches of native vegetation and scattered trees found on the site.
The proposed vegetation clearance areas mainly follow the narrow linear path of the iron ore conveyors from the rail line to the wharf, plus a broader lay down area approximately 350 metres from the wharf and a site for an administration building to the south west.
Due to the legacy operations of the site, minimal further native vegetation clearance will be required to support the construction and operations of the site.
The marine environment adjacent to the wharf is not navigable for ocean-going bulk carriers. Cargo will be loaded from the wharf storage area onto shallow-draft self-unloading barges. The barges will then travel to a designated transhipment area located in the Gulf, where the ore will be moved across to ocean-going vessels. The movement of the ore will be configured to manage the risk of material dropping into water.
It is currently intended to use the existing approved offshore transhipment points (OTP) to the southeast of Whyalla.
This transportation and transhipment arrangement means dredging is not required to support the proposed export facility or associated operations.
The marine environment next to the wharf is deep enough to allow barges to dock. Aquatic vegetation (i.e. seagrass) is unlikely to be significantly impacted; the bulk of the works and barge operations will be in the deeper water outside of the normal range of seagrass species, and studies undertaken within the northern Spencer Gulf indicate general low suitability of habitat within the area.
Minimal in-channel piling together with wharf wall strengthening will be required as part of the proposed design.
Biosecurity issues will be managed as part of future approvals processes and is not included within the scope of the Development Application.
Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), an action (which includes a project or development) requires approval from the Federal Government Environment Minister if it has, will have, or is likely to have, a significant impact on a Matter of National Environmental Significance (MNES). According to the Act, a ‘significant impact’ is “an impact which is important, notable, or of consequence, having regard to its context or intensity”, with a ‘likely’ impact one that has a real or not remote chance or possibility of occurring.
Across both the near-shore marine environment and land environment of the site, there are no MNES that are likely to be significantly impacted by the proposed development. There are no World Heritage properties, National Heritage Places, Wetlands of International Importance or Commonwealth Marine Areas in the vicinity. There are no threatened ecological communities present, with no significant impacts on threatened species or migratory species.
As a result, an EPBC referral is not considered necessary as part of the current Development Application.