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Western Australian gov't gives final environmental approval for Wheatstone gas project

SYDNEY, Aug. 31 — The Government of Western Australia (WA) has granted final environmental approval for Chevron-operated Wheatstone liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in the state's northwest, one of Australia's largest resource projects, local media reported on Wednesday.

WA Environment Minister Bill Marmion says the approval has been granted with 25 conditions attached to protect marine fauna, including whales, turtles and dugongs.

The proposed LNG plant with a projected capacity of 25 million tons a year will be built at Ashburton North, 12 kilometers west of Onslow in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

"The state government will continue to ensure the highest environmental standards are applied to project the local community and its environment," Marmion said in a statement.

"This is a huge development for Western Australia. At its peak, the construction workforce for Wheatstone is expected to reach 3,000 people, in addition to a further 3500 indirect jobs and billions of dollars in locally purchased goods and services," Marmion said.

Chevron Australia Pty Ltd Managing Director Roy Krzywosinski on Wednesday welcomed the approval and said the company looked forward to a environmental approval from the federal government.

A final investment decision on the project is expected later in 2011. (PNA/Xinhua) DCT/eds

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