Move to protect Cape York areas threatened by mining plans
TWS Northern Australia campaigner Gavan McFadzean wrote to Mr Burke late last week requesting urgent intervention to ensure the areas’ natural and cultural values are not destroyed while the public consultation process is under way.
TWS has identified the areas surrounding Rio Tinto’s South of Embley project near Weipa, Aust-Pac Capital’s Wongai Coal Mine project north of Cooktown, and Cape Alumina’s Bauxite Hills and Pisolite Hills projects in the Skardon and Wenlock river basins as being most at risk. Section 324JL - 324JQ of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 gives
Mr Burke emergency listing powers, if he is persuaded the areas deserve National Heritage status and are under significant and imminent threat. "The mining boom is driving an outbreak of new mining proposals on Cape York Peninsula for coal, bauxite, kaolin and mineral sands," Mr McFadzean said. "These mines will bring destructive land clearing, water extraction, pollution, dams, dredging, vast road networks and other industrial infrastructure to pristine and remote locations in Cape York Peninsula – destroying the very values for which the region is being assessed for World Heritage and National Heritage listing."
A Rio Tinto Alcan spokesman said despite repeated offers, TWS had declined to discuss the project with them. "We are committed to a thorough and transparent environmental impact assessment process for the South of Embley Project," he said. "We will continue to work with all interested stakeholders to ensure the project is delivered with the best possible environmental outcomes."
Mr Burke said he was aware some groups had requested emergency heritage listings in the Cape. "As with all such requests I’ve asked my department to have a look at it," he said. "I would caution that emergency heritage listings are extremely rare.’’
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