“I haven’t had anyone come up to me and say you need to shut down their operations at this point. What I got was advice stating that with new mines you need to make sure all risks are appropriate done and we will do that.”
The internal government advisory specifically noted that government experts had warned Alcoa for the past two years that the risk of sediment flow to dams had increased rapidly.
The consultants feared that this was due to Alcoa’s movement to higher inclined regions of the catchment, larger pit sizes and the increase in unremediated areas, compounded by a lack of scientific evidence to guide decisions.
It warned that a severe event such as a fire followed by a heavy rainfall event could cause massive amounts of pathogens and chemical-carrying sediment to flow into the dam, potentially leaving it offline for years.
In addition to the current risk to the dam, consultants said, Alcoa’s proposed mining plan over the next five years poses an even greater risk.
Although government experts have been looking into the issue for two years, McGowan said he only became aware of it late last year before a meeting with Roy Harvey, Alcoa’s global chief executive officer.
Environment Secretary Reece Whitby, State Development Secretary Roger Cook and former Water Secretary Dave Kelly also met with Alcoa on December 15 last year to discuss the dam issues.
In Cook’s approval of Alcoa’s 2022-2026 mining plan in September 2022, he provided the company with a list of 12 expectations that the company needed to meet before approving its 2023-27 plan.
A spokeswoman for the state government said the premier and senior ministers met with Alcoa and made it clear to the company that water risks must be properly managed.
An Alcoa spokeswoman yesterday defended the company’s WA mining operations, saying they have never compromised drinking water supplies and that Alcoa takes its environmental commitments seriously.
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https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/mcgowan-adamant-no-undue-risk-to-perth-s-water-allowed-despite-warnings-20230209-p5cjcz.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_environment McGowan insisted no “undue risk” would be allowed on Perth’s waters, despite warnings