MAC: Mines and Communities

Environmentalists launch second legal challenge against Tasmanian mining proposals

Published by MAC on 2013-06-11
Source: Enviromine (2013-06-07)

Environmentalists launch second legal challenge against Tasmanian mining proposals

Enviromine

7 June 2013

Australian environmentalists have launched a second legal challenge to approvals for mining projects in Tasmania, claiming that the authorities are ignoring the risks posed to endangered species in the local habitat.

Environmental campaign group Save the Tarkine launched the appeal at the Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal on Wednesday (June 5) following the decision last month by the West Coast Council to approve the development of Venture Minerals Ltd's Riley Creek iron-ore project near Tullah in Tarkine, north-west Tasmania.

This followed earlier approval of the project by Tasmania's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), although EPA board chair John Ramsay noted that the EPA had imposed certain conditions on its approval, relating to water quality, protection of threatened flora, protection of Tasmanian devil and spotted-tailed quoll dens, road-kill minimisation, and site rehabilitation.

The legal challenge also comes just a month after Save the Tarkine was granted a temporary injunction by the Australian federal court to halt construction at the proposed Shree Minerals Ltd's Nelson Bay River iron-ore mine, also located in the Tarkine.

Save the Tarkine's Scott Jordan said the Riley Creek project had been approved by the EPA, despite failing to meet its assessment guidelines.

"Save the Tarkine will be asking the Resource management and Planning Appeals Tribunal to overturn this flawed and invalid approval," said Jordan.

"Short cuts are definitely not appropriate in mining, and the community should be very concerned when Government agencies begin to facilitate short cuts for mining companies," he added.

The Tarkine, which is currently being considered for World Heritage status, is home to the Tasmanian devil, which is threatened with extinction as a result of an infectious cancer that has killed an estimated 80% of the world's Tasmanian devil population. The Tarkine is believed to be the only area in the world that remains free of the disease.

There has been considerable debate over mining proposals in this region given the economic benefits and jobs that the mines are expected to bring to the area. Tasmania currently has the highest unemployment rate in the whole of Australia.

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