SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's environmental authorities on Wednesday cleared the way for the world's No. 4 iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group to extend operations at a key mine site for another 35 years.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Western Australia State said it would recommend Fortescue's application to expand its Solomon mine, 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) north of Perth, to go ahead pending a two-week public appeal process.
Fortescue said the expansion would allow for production to be sustained at current levels well into the future, and that there were no plans to increase annual output.
"Fortescue began seeking regulatory approval for sustaining production at Solomon several years ago as a procedural measure to achieve the necessary permits for ongoing mining operations," a company spokesman said. "The company has no current plans to increase production."
The Australian miner has set shipment guidance for fiscal 2017 at 165 million to 170 million tonnes, compared with 169.4 million tonnes in fiscal 2016.
The expansion will require clearing 12,146 hectares of land on top of the 6,313 hectares cleared for the existing mine, according to the EPA.
(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Manolo Serapio Jr.)