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The Wimmera project's primary focus is the WIM100 deposit, one of a number of similar style, fine grained deposits located in the Wimmera and Mallee regions of Western Victoria. The deposit is distinguished by the fineness of its mineral content, which is unsuitable for processing at Iluka’s Hamilton mineral separation plant. As such, the project encompasses the development of both mining activities and new processing facilities. The project is currently in definitive feasibility study phase (DFS).

Under the Environment Effects Act 1978 Iluka is required to prepare an Environment Effects Statement (EES) to assess the potential environmental impacts of the project. The EES will require Iluka to conduct a number of studies including, but not limited to, biodiversity and habitat, water catchment and hydrology, visual and environmental amenity, social impact and cultural heritage.

More information on the EES for Wimmera can be found on the Victorian Government's Department of Transport and Planning website.

Community and Environment Documents

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WIM100 is the name of the deposit Iluka proposes to mine as part of the Wimmera project; and refers to the geological type of the deposit. There are other WIM-style deposits in the Wimmera region including WIM50, WIM150, WIM200, WIM250 and Goschen South. WIM style deposits are fine grained sands characterised by sheet-like geometry. They are a lower grade but yield higher tonnages relative to other mineral sands deposits. Because of the fine nature of their mineral sands, mining and processing ore from WIM style deposits is technically challenging.

The project will produce zircon, titanium dioxide and rare earth mineral products.

In 2018, Iluka developed a test pit in the central part of the WIM100 site. The purpose of the test pit was to gather information to further develop the mining, processing and rehabilitation methods. Rehabilitation of the test pit commenced in January 2020, and the site has now been fully rehabilitated back to agricultural use. Lessons learned will be applied to future rehabilitation at Wimmera if the mine receives the necessary approvals.

The deposit will be progressively mined via an open pit method using mobile earthmoving equipment. It is likely that scrapers and tractor scoops will be used for the removal and replacement of topsoil and subsoil, and that trucks and excavators will be used for overburden removal and replacement. The ore mining will be carried out through a dredge method and the ore (in a slurry form) will be pumped to an on-site processing facility.

The site will be approximately 3,100 hectares comprised of:

  • a conventional open pit mine and ore handling system; - processing plant comprised of a mineral separation plant, zircon refinery and rare earth refinery;
  • water pipelines and electricity supply infrastructure;
  •  ore and overburden stockpiles;
  • product storage and loading facility;- water storage dams;
  • administration buildings, workshop and maintenance buildings;
  • internal access and haul roads; and
  • lay down areas and carparks.

The Wimmera project centres on the development of the WIM100 deposit which is finer and has different characteristics than those mined as part of Iluka’s previous operations in Victoria. The Hamilton plant is designed to process coarser style of deposits. These are fundamentally different separation and refining techniques; and a new processing facility is required.

Equally, Iluka is eager to maintain the Hamilton plant’s capability, as it remains suitable to potentially process ore sourced from coarser style mineral sands deposits in the future.

The company retains a number of these types of deposits within its portfolio.

The expected duration of mining activities is 25+ years. Site rehabilitation and monitoring activities will occur progressively during operations and will continue for approximately 10 years following the completion of mining.

The project is currently in definitive feasibility study (DFS) phase. During DFS the option that was recommended to the Iluka Board of Directors in the pre-feasibility study (PFS) phase is assessed in detail to further define risks and refine cost. At the conclusion of the DFS phase a recommendation is made to the Board on whether to progress the project to the construction and execute phases. The company expects the DFS stage to continue until mid-2026.

During this process Iluka will be applying for the necessary State and Commonwealth government approvals. The company is currently preparing an Environment Effects Statement, which facilitates this process. 

Iluka is preparing an Environment Effects Statement, which will be assessed by the Victorian Department of Transport and Planning. The EES is not an approval document. Rather, the EES will enable the Victorian Minister for Planning to determine whether the impacts of proposed works will be acceptable and do not outweigh the wider benefits of the project. Secondary permits including the mining lease cannot be assessed without first having regard for the Minister’s decision. Further information about the EES process can be found on the Department of Transport and Planning website.

The Wimmera project will also be assessed under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) (EPBC Act), due to potential impacts on ‘listed threatened species and communities’, ‘listed migratory species’, and ‘nuclear actions’ (relating to mine waste disposal).

The EPBC Act assessment is integrated into the Victorian EES process under an agreement between the State and Commonwealth governments. Following completion of the EES process, the Minister for Planning’s assessment of the project is forwarded to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment for a decision on whether to approve the project under the EPBC Act and, if so, under what conditions.

Further details on the EPBC Act process can be found on the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water website.

Iluka has engaged EMM Consulting Limited to prepare the EES.

A preliminary risk assessment has been undertaken to identify key environmental, social, health and safety risks. Each risk was assessed as being either critical, high, moderate or low based on the assumption that only basic control measures would be in place.

Current risks identified include ecology, socio-economic, traffic safety, groundwater extraction/contamination, soil contamination, radiation exposure, visual amenity and geotechnical instability.

Detailed impact studies will be completed which will identify management and mitigation methods after which the risks will be re-assessed.

Yes, in addition to the ongoing opportunity to provide feedback to Iluka via our engagement channels and public information sessions, the EES process also provides formal opportunities for stakeholders to comment on the project to the Victorian and Commonwealth governments. Comments can be provided during the public notice period of the draft scoping requirements for the EES and during the public exhibition of the EES.

Further information about the EES process can be found on the Department of Transport and Planning website.

Iluka has also engaged EMM Consulting to undertake a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) for the project, and stakeholders are invited to complete a short anonymous survey as part of this which will help Iluka to better understand key social impacts and opportunities in the region. You can complete the survey here.

Iluka is in ongoing discussions with landowners regarding the project and access to undertake environmental monitoring, investigations and assessments.

Discussions with landowners to secure access for construction and mining has commenced.

Iluka estimates that the project will provide approximately 300 jobs during construction and 280 jobs during operations, including contractors. A portion of our workforce will be from the local region.