MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Australia update

Published by MAC on 2006-11-29


Australia update

29th November 2006

More than two months ago we ran a story on this site sent us by the Jidi Jidi People of Western Australia, asking for support in stopping two mining companies iellegally entering their territory: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/Action/press1227.htm

The companies have not heeded the people who are pleading once again for your support in removing the offendering companies.

A New South Wales court has told the coal mining company, Centennial Coal, that it must assess the contrbution its' planned Anvil Hill mine will make to global greenhouse has emissions before it's allowed to go ahead.


STATEMENT OF ELDER LINDA RILEY FOR THE GOVERNING COMMITTEE OF JJAC, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation Action

23rd November 2006

We are still battling with the Western Australian State Government and mining companies that refuse to enter into our heritage agreement with us before disturbing our native title Country.

The latest from the State is that despite knowing that the version of heritage agreement they want us to sign is completely negotiable and, more importantly , unworkable, leading to huge problems down the road with any explorers that sign it, they have given us a deadline to take it or leave it and then they will say that if an explorer has signed it, even where Jidi Jidi quite correctly refuses to sign it, the State will give the green light for the explorer to do what they please on our land without even first doing a heritage site survey.

This is madness as there are many sacred sites on our land, and the explorers that go ahead with the State’s support -but without our consent- risk being prosecuted for destroying our Ancestors places.

For the State to encourage such ruthless disregard for our people and our sacred places is unacceptable. And this from a Government that has a proudly stated “platform” of protecting Aboriginal sites and Aboriginal rights on land!

Please support us by writing now to Hon Deputy Premier Eric Ripper at 28th Floor, 197 St. George’s Terrace, Perth, WA 6000.

Tell him what you think of his Government’s disregard of our rights to have our own heritage agreement, rights confirmed in a 2001 agreement made with the State, but that are being ignored and leading us into drawn out battles with explorers that follow the State’s wrong advice that the broken down template agreement is all they need to sign to get onto our Country.

Please post us a copy of your letters to me at Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation, PO Box 128 Meekatharra WA 6642.

Thank you for your help in this time of our need.

Linda Riley
Elder and Chairperson

JIDI JIDI ABORIGINAL CORPORATION
ASHBURTON DOWNS ROAD
MEEKATHARRA WA 6642

ABN 14 260 549 105

Country continues to be destroyed without any consultation with its Traditional Owners.

Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation members, particularly Elders with the chief duty to protect their Ancestors Country and sacred sites from harm, are getting very upset at this destruction of their lands and the Western Australia (WA) State Government will do nothing to help them. Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation, representing the Nharnuwangga Wajarri Ngarlawangga People's Native Title, is now aware, that with the knowledge and direct support of the State, various explorers are doing exploration and mining activities, including high impact work such as drilling, without having made the required heritage agreement. The heritage agreement allows for sacred sites to be avoided and so not harmed by such activities.

Two companies that have not signed heritage agreements with the Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation are Gleneagle Gold and Sandfire Resources. Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation have now had to ask Western Australian State Government environmental regulators to get the companies to stop work and make the heritage agreement. This is consistent with the regulators’ policies and procedures, but Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation is worried that the usual bias against, and disinterest in, any issues raised by Indigenous people will see them making excuses for these two companies.

Support Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation to have heritage agreements signed by writing to or emailing Gleneagle Gold and Sandfire Resources.

For further information please feel free to contact the Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation, by emailing Mr Marcus Holmes: mholmes@taylorlinfoot.com.au

Note to Editors:

Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation is created by the Native Title Act 1993, to manage and be trustee of the Native Title of the Nharnuwangga Wajarri Ngarlawangga People in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The Nharnuwangga Wajarri Ngarlawangga People were the first group of native title holders in Western Australia to successfully prove their native title to their Country.

WHAT CAN I DO?

Please support the Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation to secure the signing of heritage agreements with Gleneagle Gold and Sandfire Resources. You can accomplish this by writing to or emailing Gleneagle Gold and Sandfire

Resources on the contact details below. Please send a copy to: mholmes@taylorlinfoot.com.au Marcus Holmes when sending your action to Gleneagle Gold or Sandfire Resources. Remember to include your postal addresses.

WRITE TO GLENEAGLE GOLD:
Managing Director,
Gleneagle Gold
1 Ventnor Avenue,
West Perth,
Western Australia, 6005
AUSTRALIA
Telephone: +61 8 9476 4646
Facsimile: +61 8 9476 4600
Email: ian@gleneaglegold.com.au

Dear Sir,

HERITAGE AGREEMENT WITH JIDI JIDI ABORIGINAL CORPORATION We have been informed by Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation that your company is carrying out exploration activity on their members’ Native Title Country without having first made a protective heritage agreement with Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation.

We understand that you have been asked many times to do so, and that the requirement to make such an agreement is actually a binding condition written onto your tenements.

This breach by your company is causing great harm and distress to the Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation. members, particularly the Elders. We/I request that your company enters into a heritage agreement with Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation and you do the right thing on their Country.

Yours faithfully,
(SIGNED)

PLEASE WRITE TO SANDFIRE RESOURCES:
Managing Director,
Sandfire Resources
1 Ventnor Avenue,
West Perth,
Western Australia, 6005
AUSTRALIA
Telephone: +61 8 9226 5833
Facsimile: +61 8 9226 5844
E-mail: admin@sandfire.com.au

Dear Sir,

HERITAGE AGREEMENT WITH JIDI JIDI ABORIGINAL CORPORATION We have been informed by Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation that your company is carrying out exploration activity on their members’ Native Title Country without having first made a protective heritage agreement with Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation.

We understand that you have been asked many times to do so, and that the requirement to make such an agreement is actually a binding condition written onto your tenements.

This breach by your company is causing great harm and distress to the Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation. members, particularly the Elders.

We/I request that your company enters into a heritage agreement with Jidi Jidi Aboriginal Corporation and you do the right thing on their Country. Yours faithfully,
(SIGNED)

THE JIDI JIDI ABORIGINAL CORPORATION THANKS YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT


Australian Judge Blocks Coal Mine on Climate Grounds

SYDNEY, Australia, (ENS)

29th November 2006

A New South Wales court ruling that a coal producer must include climate impacts of a proposed mine in its environmental assessment could impact a wide range of Australia's mining, energy and manufacturing industries.

The New South Wales Land and Environment Court decided Tuesday that Centennial Coal Company Ltd, developer of the Anvil Hill mine, failed to adequately account for the greenhouse gas emissions from burning the coal that the mine would produce if approved.

Justice Nicola Pain ruled that the New South Wales Department of Planning approval of the mine's environment assessment was void.

Justic Pain wrote that there is "a sufficiently proximate link" between mining of coal and the emission of greenhouse gases, and that it should have been considered in evaluating the project. But she stopped short of ordering the impact statement be redone, saying only that the government must consider the impacts.

Centennial Coal is Australia's largest independent coal producer. It operates 11 mines in New South Wales, supplying power plants, industries, and export markets.

The case was brought by Peter Gray, a 26 year old student at the University of Newcastle, who sued Centennial Coal and the New South Wales Department of Planning.

Gray successfully argued that any approval of the Anvil Hill coal mine should take into account the impact of climate change, even emissions created by burning the coal years later in foreign countries.

Gray was delighted with the ruling. "It's a huge win for the people of New South Wales and for the people of the globe, really," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ABC.

"I mean, what we see now is that climate change is a real issue that the government will have to deal with. They can no longer stick their heads in the sand," Gray said.

The government of Prime Minister John Howard has declined to ratify the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Climate Change Convention with its legally binding greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Concerned about the Australian economy, the government decided instead to adopt a voluntary approach to limiting emissions.

New South Wales Planning Minister Frank Sartor said the effect of Justice Pain's ruling could be painful for much of Australian industry. "Don't underestimate how many industries could be touched by this," Sartor told ABC. "This could potentially have an impact on many, many industries."

The New South Wales government is likely to appeal against the ruling.

Centennial Coal executives were not deterred by the court's ruling. Managing Director Bob Cameron said Tuesday that any "imperfection" that may have existed as a result of not undertaking an assessment of downstream greenhouse gas emissions has since been addressed.

"Centennial has, in response to public submissions, prepared a document that comprehensively deals with the downstream greenhouse gas impacts of the project," Cameron said.

But Greenpeace energy campaigner Ben Pearson interprets the decision as a blockade on the road to new mine development.

"This is an historic ruling," he said. "If you factor in climate change impacts, new mines just cannot be allowed to go ahead."

Greenpeace has been campaigning against approval of the Anvil Hill Mine. On Friday, 10 Greenpeacers entered Centennial Coal's annual general meeting in Sydney to hang a banner reading "Centennial Coal = Climate Change." Nine activists were dragged from the room by plain clothes police while the other activist was arrested but released without charges.

At the same time demonstrators gathered outside the hotel and hung a "Save Anvil Hill" banner.

Outside the annual general meeting, Pearson said Australia's coal industry cannot be allowed to expand. "Coal causes climate change yet here is Centennial Coal meeting to discuss how they can produce even more coal. For the sake of the future, this meeting cannot go ahead."

Australia is the world's biggest coal exporter, and black coal is Australia's largest export, worth around $A22.2 billion in calendar year 2005.

The proposed Anvil Hill mine is central to the expansion of the coal industry planned for the Hunter Valley.

Anvil Hill would produce 10.5 million metric tons of coal annually. Burning this coal would emit up to 27 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, more than the 22 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted by the four million motor vehicles on New South Wales roads.

Pearson said, "The court has recognized the link between coal and climate change and it's time for government to do the same."

Greenpeace and other environment groups are calling for an immediate moratorium on all new coal projects in New South Wales, starting with the rejection of Anvil Hill, and more renewable energy development.

The Greens, who hold four seats in the Australian Senate, want the court's decision enshrined in federal law. They will move an amendment in the Senate this week to change environment laws to reflect Justice Pain's ruling.

The Greens' climate change bill includes provisions to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, and establish a Ministry for Climate Change and Energy. The bill sets emission targets for 2020 of 20 percent below 1990 levels, and for 2050 of 80 percent below 1990, including annual progress reporting and five year review periods.

But Australian Environment Minister Senator Ian Campbell says Justice Pain's decision was "fatally flawed."

He says changes to federal laws will not solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.

Preventing coal development is not the way to solve the global warming problem, says Campbell, who views carbon capture and sequestration as the solution.

"What we need to do as a world is to keep mining coal," he told ABC. "In fact, mine more coal for energy security, but invest in the technologies to ensure that when we burn that coal, we have the technology to capture the carbon and stop it going into the atmosphere."

On November 23, Campbell announced that the Australian government will provide A$60 million to support the world's largest carbon dioxide capture and storage project - the Gorgon gas project.

The Gorgon project proposal involves a huge liquefied natural gas plant and a domestic gas plant on Barrow Island, located off Australia's northwest coast. Host to Australia's largest operating onshore oil field for the past 40 years, Barrow Island is also a nature reserve.

The Greater Gorgon Area development is being pursued by an unincorporated joint venture of three international energy companies - Chevron, Shell, and ExxonMobil.

Campbell said, "This project, which will capture carbon dioxide from the Gorgon gas field and inject it deep underground, has the potential to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by up to three million tons each year."

"Large scale commercial use of carbon capture and storage technologies offer Australia's energy sector its single largest opportunity to reduce greenhouse gases," Campbell said. "Scientific estimates suggest that up to 25 percent of Australia's carbon dioxide emissions could be stored in underground reservoirs each year."

Read the Anvil Hill Environmental Assessment online at: http://www.umwelt.com.au/anvil-hill/

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