MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Filling a Hole - Building a Future: Kakadu Mine Rehabilitation Welcomed

Published by MAC on 2003-08-01

Filling a Hole - Building a Future: Kakadu Mine Rehabilitation Welcomed

Media Release - August 1, 2003

National environment groups have today welcomed a major step towards the protection of Kakadu National Park with confirmation that major rehabilitation works are about to start at Rio Tinto's controversial Jabiluka uranium mine site.

The groups have applauded the NT Government's new approval of an application by mining company Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) to replace over 50,000 tonnes of uranium ore extracted during Jabiluka's construction and to seal the mine opening.

"This outcome is an important win for conservation and indigenous concerns and is a tribute to the tenacity of the Mirrar traditional owners in protecting their country and culture and to the efforts of the many thousands around Australia and the world who support and stand beside them," said ACF President Peter Garrett.

Work at Jabiluka has been stalled since September 1999 and the issue has been a serious embarrassment for ERA's parent company, the global mining giant Rio Tinto.

"Rio Tinto promised to rehabilitate Jabiluka and to sign a contract with the Mirrar that means any future development would require their explicit support," said Peter Garrett. "The clean up is welcome and we now look forward to the signing of this key contract."

Jabiluka has been one of Australia's longest running environment and indigenous rights struggles. A peaceful blockade of the site in 1998 lasted eight months and involved over 5000 people, with more then 500 arrests. The project has been the focus of scrutiny and opposition from the Australian Senate, the European Parliament, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee and many groups and communities in Australia and internationally.

"Rehabilitating the Jabiluka site is a huge step towards the permanent resolution of this struggle," said ECNT coordinator Mark Wakeham. "Cleaning up Jabiluka and protecting the country and culture of Kakadu is a real win for all."

From: The Environment Centre of the Northern Territory Friends of the Earth Australia Australian Conservation Foundation

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