Central Australian salt mine to operate as waste facility

A proposed salt mine in Central Australia will also be used as a deep storage facility for archival material and hazardous waste.

Developers Tellus Holdings noted the facility’s potential in a statement, as the draft environmental impact statement [EIS] was released last week.

Managing director Duncan van der Merwe told ABC News the concept was nothing new.

“The voids leftover from mining effectively creates an underground warehouse business,” Mr van der Merwe said.

“This is popular in Europe and North America where the banks and governments store equipment and electronic archives and paper copies.

“It’s just like one of your commercial above-ground storage facilities, but is well suited in a dry environment.”

The proposed Chandler site salt mine is 120km south of Alice Springs.

Mr van der Merwe said waste types, such as those from agriculture, the construction sector, health care, manufacturing as well as chemical, industry, mining and technology could be stored in the rock salt mines.

“Oil, gas and waste from utilities like electricity, water, gas supply [can also be stored],” he said.

The facility would be able to store or permanently isolate up to 400,000 tonnes of waste per annum, the draft indicates.

ABC News reported the company expects to start with 30,000 tonnes for the first year and an average 340,000 tonnes per annum after that.

Mr van der Merwe said underground salt mines were ideal for storing these waste products.

However, he said they will not take nuclear and uranium waste.

“We’re emphatically saying that we will not take uranium waste and nuclear waste. In the event that we even get approached down the road we will decline that.

“We are not interested in using out facility for these services.”

The draft EIS is available for public comment until Friday, March 31, 2017.

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