Approval Granted for Mogo Charcoal Facility

1 May 2002
Approval granted for Mogo Carbon Facility

The state government has given conditional approval for the construction of a wood processing and metallurgical carbon and facility near Mogo on the NSW South Coast.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Planning, Dr Andrew Refshauge, today granted consent to Australian Silicon Operations Proprietary Limited to proceed with the project, but imposed strict conditions on its construction and operation.

“This proposal has been the subject of a lengthy and exhaustive assessment by the department of planning as a result of the strength of concern expressed by members of the Mogo community”, Dr. Refshauge said.

“I can assure the community that each and every concern raised in their submissions has been thoroughly investigated and, where necessary, conditions imposed on the developer to ensure those concerns are fully answered.

Australian Silicon Operations plans to build and operate the carbon plant on an existing quarry site near Mogo in the Eurobodalla shire. It will process residual timber from nearby milling operations – converting it into charcoal to be used in the production of silicon at a new smelter facility to be built by the company at Lithgow.

In granting approval, significant changes to the developments were required including:

•That all heavy vehicle movements occur on the Princes Highway, avoiding coastal villages and hamlets.
•That the developer double the size on the on-site water circulation dam from 20 to 40 megalitres meaning no town water will be used in the process. All processed water will be biologically treated onsite ensuring no pollutants are discharged from the plant.
•That a Community Reference Panel shall be established and chaired by an independent person to ensure an ongoing voice and monitoring role during construction and operation.
“I’m also ensuring that no forest tree is cut down for the sole purpose of charcoal production. The plant is only to use residual waste timber- such as branches and stumps – taken from the Southern region forests.

“Conditions such as these, together with what’s been far reaching and thorough assessment process will ensure the project meets stringent environmental and planning requirements.

“These conditions are not optional. They must be strictly adhered to or the plant will not be allowed to operate”, Doctor Refshauge said.

“To ensure compliance, I have required an independent specialist team of auditors, appointed by planning NSW, to undertake an annual audit of all aspects of the plant’s operations – including any potential impacts on the community.
“These audit results will be made public.

“In addition to this, I’ve also insisted there will be a comprehensive independent monitoring program throughout the plant’s construction – continuing after the plant begins operation.

“Once again, all data and results will be publicly available. It will be an open, transparent and on-going process that will hopefully reassure residents and certainly guarantee there are no unacceptable negative impacts on their community.

“I would like to take the opportunity now to thank the communities and Eurobodalla Shire Council for raising so comprehensively the issues they saw as relevant for my consideration.

“The Australian Silicon charcoal plant is a very important project and Mogo will now play a key role in the creation of a vibrant and exciting new industry for the entire State” Dr. Refshauge said.

Overview of key approval conditions

•An air quality management plan be established to monitor and manage air quality and emissions (departmental assessment found emissions from the plant would, depending on the pollutants, be between 60 and 80,000 times below acceptable health standards)
•Charcoal and flux wood must only be transported to Lithgow via the Princes highway (coastal road) and must not travel by the Kings Highway (inland route)
•A community complaints response mechanism must be developed
•A comprehensive, independent, environmental audit of the development must be completed every year for the first five years of operation, and every three years thereafter. The results of the audit must be made available to the public.
•All documents relating to environmental management and performance must be made available to the public on request.
•Important habitat for the Yellow Bellied Glider, including a den tree and several feed trees, must be retained in a vegetative buffer around the perimeter of the site.
•Noise monitoring must be undertaken to confirm noise performance under normal design loads. Noise monitoring results must be made available to the public.
•The company must revegetate areas of the site to enhance connectivity of Yellow Belly Glider habitat.
•The intersection of the site access road must be upgraded to meet the requirements of council and the RTA.
•The company must bear the maintenance cost for the site access road.
•Construction of the notional water supply pipeline indicated in the EIS is not permitted (the pipeline was suggested to be constructed through a SEPP 14 wetland).
•Sawdust, wastes and other by-products must not be burned at the development.
•Town water must only be brought to the development for domestic purposes and must not be used in production processes.
•All drainage and water management infrastructure on the site must be designed to prevent the pollution of waters.
•Strict water control monitoring is required for discharges, collected stormwater and the hydrological catchment. Water quality monitoring results must be made available to the public.
•The community reference panel, chaired by an independent person approved by the director general, must be actively consulted to develop a program for ongoing community participation and consultation.
•The company must employ a qualified environmental officer and train all relevant staff in environmental management issues.
•A Construction and Environmental Management Plan must be prepared and implemented, including a fire safety study, hazard and operations study, a final hazard analysis, a construction safety study, a road works and construction traffic management plan, and an erosion and sediment control plan.
•An Operation Environmental Management Plan must be prepared and implemented to detail all ongoing environmental management during the operation of the development. It must include strategies dealing with issues such as air quality, traffic, noise, water reuse, landscape management.
•An annual environmental management report must be prepared every year by an independent qualified person approved by the director general. The report would detail and evaluate environmental performance and must be made publicly available.

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