The Cape Riche desalination plant has been granted conditional approval by the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).


Grange Resources proposed plant will supply 12 gigalitres of water per year to the company’s Southdown Magnetite Project, an open pit magnetite mine about 90 kilometres north east of Albany.


The desalination plant will be located about 5km west of Cape Riche, with the seawater intake and pump station 500 metres east of Cheyne Inlet. A brine outfall will be located on the south side of Cape Riche.


EPA Chairman Paul Vogel said that given the pristine surrounding environment, the agency had recommended a number of conditions.


“This proposal has the potential to impact marine fauna and habitats, marine water quality and terrestrial flora and fauna through activities including blasting to construct the intake channel and clearing of vegetation for the pipeline construction,” Dr Vogel said.


“The conditions the EPA has recommended include measures to maintain marine water quality and minimise impacts to marine habitats and fauna.”


Dr Vogel said other key factors considered were the processes surrounding the decommissioning of the mine site as well as the impacts on the social surrounds.


“The EPA visited Cape Riche last year and understands the area is highly valued by the community for its indigenous heritage, environmental values and recreational use,” he said.


“This proposal is unlikely to significantly impact the social surrounds however conditions will require that exclusion zones ensure walking corridors along Cape Riche are not completely blocked off at any time during construction.