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Trucks back on track

Monday, 13th December, 2010

By Andrew Robertson

City Council could be forced to rescind its decision and allow Perilya to truck ore from the Potosi mine through parts of the city.

The council has received legal advice that casts doubt on the legality of its resolution last month to allow operations at Potosi to resume.

Approval was granted on the condition that Perilya use a yet-to-be constructed haulage road around parts of the city to transport ore to its Southern Operations.

Perilya had wanted to truck the ore from Potosi, five kilometres north of the city, via Argent Street, Menindee Road, Holten Drive and Eyre Street.

An alternative route would have had trucks use Comstock and Patton streets and Kanandah Road on occasions.

But residents objected to Perilya's plan to run B-double trucks up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on the streets, citing concerns about safety, noise, dust and damage to roads.

In an amended application, the company reduced the maximum number of movements per day to 58 and also reduced the number of hours the trucks would operate.

However Council has now been told the resolution it passed is not acceptable because the provision of the haulage road creates uncertainty for Perilya.

The BDT has learned that Council was told by lawyers that Perilya would have a strong case if it took the matter to the Land and Environment Court.

The legal advice was given to councillors at an extraordinary meeting held on Friday, where Council officers were asked to prepare a report outlining other options.

These could include approving the application with the condition that Perilya upgrade roads along its intended route, in line with recommendations from the Roads and Traffic Authority.

Councillors were told at the meeting that a separate agreement could then be struck with Perilya to construct a bypass road.

Another option might be to defer those parts of the application that related to haulage of the ore.

The report could be ready for councillors to consider by this Friday. The BDT has also learned Perilya's managing director Paul Arndt told councillors during a briefing last Friday week that the company would be prepared to commit up to $3 million towards building the haulage road.

But Mr Arndt told the councillors that the company's board would never approve the resumption of operations at Potosi while uncertainty remained around the transportation of ore.

Transporting ore through the city provided that certainty, he said. Various approvals, including native title, would first have to be obtained before the unsealed haulage road could be built.

Mayor Wincen Cuy told the BDT yesterday that no resolutions were made at last Friday's confidential meeting.

"All we did is consider information and asked council officers to bring back more information," he said.

Asked if the advice could affect Council's decision on Potosi, the mayor said: "We don't really know until we get further information."

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