MAC: Mines and Communities

Rio Tinto rejects Aboriginal poison water concerns

Published by MAC on 2011-02-14
Source: ABC News (2011-02-09)

A senior traditional owner in Kakadu National Park is calling on the Australian government to reject plans to expand the Ranger uranium mine.

Yvonne Margarula is alarmed at the likely poisoning of her peoples' water by mine wastes.

However, Rio Tinto - which manages Ranger through its subsidairy ERA - has dismissed these fears, despite such contamination already having a long history.

See: - Kakadu being poisoned by Rio Tinto mine, group warn

ERA rejects 'poison' mine water worry

By Anna Henderson

ABC News

9 February 2011

A senior traditional owner in Kakadu National Park is calling on the Australian government to reject plans to expand the Ranger uranium mine.

Senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula said the Mirrar people in Kakadu are concerned Energy Resources of Australia can't manage the waste water at its Ranger mine.

She said traditional owners were not confident that the waste water was being safely managed after milling operations were suspended last month.

"We are worrying about what might happen, poison water," Ms Margurula said.

She said the mine's processing plant was shut down for three months because the tailings dam was almost full.

"The water getting bigger, it's going downstream," she said.

She said Aboriginal people living in the area were worried about the health of their communities, wildlife and nearby world heritage listed wetlands.

"The mining company - they wouldn't listen to us," she said.

ERA chief executive Rob Atkinson said ERA was paying attention and he'll work with traditional owners to help allay their fears.

"Water management is something we take very seriously. We also take the concerns of our traditional owners very seriously," Mr Atkinson said.

"We take every possible step to ensure we protect not only the business but also the environment."

The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation which represents the Mirrar is now calling for a study into surface water that comes out of the mine.

Mr Atkinson said he supported a new water study and ERA will meet with traditional owners to discuss their concerns.

"A review which hopefully includes the regulators and supervising scientists as well," he said.

Traditional owners say the analysis must be done independently.

ERA is submitting a draft environmental impact statement later this year for new mining at the Ranger site.

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