MAC: Mines and Communities

Aboriginal community struggles to stop Yeelirrie go-ahead

Published by MAC on 2018-02-11
Source: NITV

Government decision based on "shonky" assessment, claim Conservationists

Last year, the former Barnett government of Western Australia approved Canadian uranium company Cameco's Yeelirrie mine against advice from the Environmental Protection Authority and the wishes of the Aboriginal people of the land.

Nonetheless,  the Tjiwarl community has vowed to continue its enduring 40-year old struggle against the project.

And a final decision still lies with the Australian federal government.

Yeelirrie uranium mine appeal fails in WA court


8 February  2018

CONSERVATIONISTS and Tjiwarl traditional owners will continue to fight the approval for a uranium mine in central WA despite losing a Supreme Court appeal.

Former state environment minister Albert Jacob gave the green light to Cameco's Yeelirrie mine proposal in January last year, just 16 days before the pre-election caretaker mode began.

The Conservation Council of WA and traditional owners fear unique subterranean fauna in the area will be made extinct if the project proceeds.

Chief Justice Wayne Martin determined on Thursday that the appeal against the ministerial decision should be dismissed.

Costs will be determined at a later date.

CCWA executive director Piers Verstegen told reporters outside court the decision was disappointing but only a setback for their battle.

"It's absolutely not the end of the road for Yeelirrie or the other uranium mines that are being strongly contested here in Western Australia," he said.

Tjiwarl native title holder Vicky Abdullah said the court case was only part of the campaign.

"This is a very disappointing and sad day for our people, our land, and our future," she said.

"We have fought long and hard to protect Yeelirrie and stop the uranium project.

"It's a bad decision, but it's not the end decision."

The ministerial endorsement was subject to 17 conditions, including the Canadian company undertaking further surveys and research into stygofauna and troglofauna to minimise impacts on the tiny underground creatures.

Mr Verstegen said he always knew the appeal would result in either the uranium approval being ruled invalid or the environmental laws being exposed as inadequate.

"Today's ruling shows that indeed our environmental laws are deeply inadequate," he said.

There is still a federal decision pending, with the WA appeal delaying the process by months.

"It is now up to the commonwealth government to take a rigorous approach to the environmental assessment of this project rather than just relying on the shonky assessment that was done under the Barnett government," Mr Verstegen said.

"We call on the federal government not to approve extinction at Yeelirrie."

Mr Verstegen said advice would be sought on whether further legal action was possible.

Regarding costs, he said lawyers would argue it was a public interest case and they should not have to bear the full costs.


Traditional Owners lose their fight to stop uranium mine in WA

Rangi Hirini


8 February 2018

The proposed Yeelirrie mine, located in Western Australia's Mid-West region, is set to exploit the state's biggest uranium deposit, which lies below the Tjiwarl people's land under native title rights.

For the last 40 years, Tjiwarl Traditional Owners have been opposing any uranium mining on their land as they say it would threaten important cultural sites, part of the Seven Sisters Dreaming Songline.

Tjiwarl woman Vicky Abdullah says she has campaigned against the mine, as she can feel her Ancestors when she's on country.

"This is a very disappointing and sad day for our people, our land, and our future. We have fought long and hard to protect Yeelirrie and stop the uranium project," she said.

However, Ms Abdullah said this setback won't deter them from giving up on their land.

"The fight is not over - this is only one part of our campaign, and we will not allow this decision to stop us now. It's a bad decision, but it's not the end decision."


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