MAC: Mines and Communities

Protest Action Grows Over Xstrata's Proposal To Destroy Sacred Sites At Mcarthur River

Published by MAC on 2007-02-13



13th February 2007

Protests over the controversial proposal to divert the McArthur River, risking environmental damage downstream and destroying important Aboriginal scared sites reached the Sydney head offices of Xstrata today.

The Australian Student Environment Network is staging an action to present Xstrata with demands to halt construction of the mining operation.

The company has proposed an expansion of its underground zinc and lead mine into an open cut operation that would divert 5km of the tropical McArthur River.

NGOs and Indigenous rights advocates have called for an immediate halt to construction until the Supreme court decides a case brought by the Northern land council for traditional owners against the company

"The company must halt construction of the new open cut mine until it resolves the grave environmental, social and cultural concerns held by the Aboriginal traditional owners and environment groups over the proposal," stated Techa Beaumont of the Mineral Policy Institute

The Australian Student Environment Network, a network of over 1000 students across Australia has warned that construction and operation of the controversial open cut mine without resolving the opposition of traditional owners will face ongoing protest action and mobilizations.

In July 2006 traditional owners from the Borrolola Region, the Yanuwa, Guradanji, Garawa, and Mara people, representing the four tribes from the area held a meeting in which they expressed united opposition to the diversion of the McArthur River, Barny Creek and Surprise Creek.

Harry Lansent, a senior Gurdanji traditional owner says 'the open cut project will damage the tail of the rainbow serpent" The company has also been criticised for failing to consult with traditional owners, refusing to speak to a liaison group of all four clans together.

Traditional owners and environment groups remain concerns about the environmental impact of the open cut proposal, including erosion of the river bed, pollution in the Gulf and Port McArthur area and the spread of contaminants by flooding.

Techa Beaumont: Mineral Policy Institute 0428 970 434 Nicky Ison: Australian Student Environment Network 0423 717 567 Charles Roche, Environment Centre Northern Territory 0448 887 303


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