Justice Estcourt rules Nelson Bay River mine permit amendments unlawful
December 17th 2014
Save the Tarkine has welcomed Justice Estcourt’s ruling in it’s Judicial Review case against the Nelson Bay River mine approval amendments. The amendments by the Director of the Environment Protection Authority allowed the mine to store twenty times as much acid producing waste rock in an above ground storage facility that the original EPA Board assessment rejected as unsafe.
“This decision confirms what Save the Tarkine has been saying for over a year – that the amendment to the approval of the Nelson Bay River mine was unlawful” , said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“This is the second time a court has overturned mine approvals for this project”.
“Government must act immediately to ensure the proper and below ground storage of wastes currently at risk of contaminating the Nelson Bay River”.
But today’s win is bittersweet.
“The fact is that we started this legal process last November, and the EPA has delayed and frustrated this case, including seven months of delays to provide a Statement of Reasons.”
“Justice delayed is justice denied, and this is true for this mine. The destruction inflicted on the landscape at Nelson Bay River by unlawful mining is a blight on our regulation systems, and act as a warning to governments that seek to water down environmental protections and remove public participation”.
While the legal challenge to the amended approval took thirteen months, the mine itself was placed into shutdown after just seven months citing financial factors.
Save the Tarkine acknowledges the vital work of the Environment Defender’s Office, and counsel Jeremy Gobbo QC and Juliet Forsyth and the support they have provided in this case.
Save the Tarkine protest Venture Minerals’ Mt Lindsay project outside tin investment forum
November 5th 2014
The Save the Tarkine volunteers were joined by two giant Tasmanian Devil costumes and the villainous Venture Minerals ‘Tin Man’.
Similar protest occured at an tin investment forum in Brisbane on Monday, and are planned for Sydney on Thursday.
Developing the Tarkine’s Future – Why minding is better than mining
October 12th 2014
Save the Tarkine and the Bob Brown Foundation are pleased with the positive reception at the forum Developing the Tarkine’s Future – Why minding is better than mining yesterday in Wynyard.
Speakers included Adam Thompson and Ashley Murray from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, economist Richard Dennis from The Australia Institute, Bob Brown from the Bob Brown Foundation, and Scott Jordan from Save the Tarkine.
Mr Dennis spoke about the need for Tasmania to engage with it’s real economic opportunities going forward, and not tie itself to subsidy dependant native forest logging and mining industries. Mr Dennis pointed out that around 1% of Tasmanians are employed in native forest logging, and less in mining, compared to 20% of Tasmanians employed in tourism and hospitality. Mr Dennis went on to say that even if Tasmania doubled the number of jobs in the declining native forest logging and mining jobs, they would still be a tiny proportion of the Tasmanian workforce and would not change Tasmania’s high unemployment, and that you can’t address big, modern economic challenges by continued subsidising of tiny, old economy industries.
Mr Jordan discussed the economic mythology that had been built around proposed mines in the Tarkine.
“We have seen the real jobs growth happening in tourism in the Tarkine right now, but it is being hampered by a blind commitment by governments to pro-mining policy that ignores the trajectory of ore prices”, said Mr Jordan.
“Iron ore prices are $40 a tonne below the prices needed for Shree’s Minerals’ failed Nelson Bay River mine or Venture’s Riley Creek or Livingstone mines to be viable, and if you apply current tin, tungsten, iron and copper prices to the Venture Minerals’ business case, then investors can expect a return on investment below the rate you would receive from a guaranteed term deposit at your local bank. Investors are walking away from these projects because they just don’t stack up”.
“If we want the community and policy makers to truly value tourism as an industry, we need to challenge the way we see tourism jobs, and start recognising that accommodation, restaurants and public toilets needs plumbers – plumbers are tourism jobs. Rental cars, buses and delivery trucks need mechanics – mechanics are tourism jobs. Farmer and fine food and beverage producers are essential to the success of the tourism sector – farmers are tourism jobs”.
Bob Brown spoke of the appeal of the Tarkine.
“The Tarkine is one of the world’s most desirable wild places. The big problem for the Tarkine will be managing the thousands of people who want to visit it. Our first task is to protect it”, said Dr Brown.
The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre’s Adam Thompson spoke of the value of tarkanya (Tarkine) to Aboriginal people, and their hopes to see it protected and returned to Aboriginal ownership and management.
“It has been recognised that Aboriginal tourism opportunities exist and although commercial tourism has never been high on our agenda in the past, we see it as an opportunity that can contribute to our goal of being economically independent from government. We also see tourism as a way to generate the income necessary to fund our land management and heritage monitoring and protection activities”, said Mr Thompson.
Save the Tarkine and Bob Brown Foundation acknowledge that the meeting took place on Aboriginal land, and pay respect to the palawa people, and to the Elders past and present.
Shree Minerals under federal investigation for environmental permit breaches
September 5th 2014
Save the Tarkine has received correspondence from the federal Environment Department confirming that Shree Minerals are subject to ongoing investigations relating to contravention of environmental permits at the Nelson Bay River mine in the Tarkine.
The contravention relates to the quantity and storage of acid producing waste rock, after Shree Minerals confirmed that it would produce twenty times as much acid producing waste rock as disclosed in it’s assessment documents.
While Shree Minerals sought and was granted a state permit amendment, they failed to notify the federal Environment Department who have responsibility for assessing impacts on threatened species. As a result they acted outside the approved environmental conditions or their permit for several months.
The increase to the quantity of acid producing waste rock and it’s storage above ground have the potential to impact on the endangered Australian Grayling which uses the Nelson Bay River, and up to six threatened and endangered orchid species that are susceptible to changes in groundwater.
Save the Tarkine notified the Environment Department’s Compliance and Enforcement Branch in May.
“This cowboy behaviour by Shree Minerals shows why they never should have been trusted with a permit in the first place”, said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“Shree Minerals and it’s directors have history for failing to comply with the rules, and a place like the Tarkine should never be risked to the likes of Shree Minerals.”
“We call on Minister Hunt to expedite this investigation, and bring a quick end to the Shree farce.”
Shree Minerals were previously found to have commenced site clearing in May 2013 without having met preconditions of their permit, and were discovered in 2012 to have failed to cap exploration drill holes as required by the Mineral Exploration Code of Practice.
Shree Minerals current and former directors Sanjay Loyalka and Arun Jagatramka (resigned as Shree Minerals Chairman in Nov 2013) were directors of Pike River Coal when it was found guilty of nine charges relating to the mine explosion that killed 29 miners in NZ. Pike River Coal failed to pay the court imposed compensation to the families after receivers discovered the insurance payout to the company had been used to fund the legal defence of the directors.
Mr Jagatramka was also Chairman of Gujarat NRE Coking Coal (now Wollongong Coal) before standing aside and is now in dispute with new owners around ‘abnormalities’ in financial transactions. Mr Loyalka was a consultant to Gujarat, and served on the Gujarat audit and management committees and has also stepped aside. Wollongong Coal are now in a dispute with the former parent company, Mr Jagatramka’s Indian based Gujarat NRE over a $60million dollar sum owed by Gujarat for coal shipments. The company’s Wongawilli mine in NSW also suffered a roof collapse burying machinery, although fortunately without casualty.
Save the Tarkine Welcomes back down by Venture Minerals
August 19th 2014
Save the Tarkine have welcomed today’s announcement by Venture Minerals that the Riley Creek strip mine in the Tarkine is uneconomic and will not proceed.
“We are certainly pleased that this damaging iron ore strip mine has been shelved, and urge Venture Minerals to add it’s Livingstone and Mt Lindsay mines to the dustbin. ”, said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“It is clear that this project never had a future. It was only planned as a two year mine project and yet one year after the initial Federal approval Venture are telling us that it is not financially viable. The fact here is that it never was.’
“It was a short term ‘grab it and run’ strip mine operation that was never going to be the saviour of north west Tasmania it was touted as.”
“False promises, false hope, and a lot of egg on the faces of those that facilitated this latest chapter in Tasmania’s legacy of environmental vandalism.”
“It is time for those who have politically supported this project to accept they have backed the wrong horse, and to refocus on the economic benefits through tourism and fine foods that will come from protecting the Tarkine wilderness brand”.
Shree Minerals relinquishes Rebecca Creek exploration licence in the Tarkine
August 1st 2014
Shree Minerals relinquishes Rebecca Creek exploration license in the Tarkine.
Save the Tarkine have welcomed yesterdays announcement by Shree Minerals that they have surrendered the Rebecca Creek exploration license in the Tarkine. This comes on the back of the suspension of mining at Nelson Bay River in June.
“Shree Minerals actions expose the lies and false promises that have been perpetrated on the people of north west Tasmania”, said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“The snake oil salesmen from the mining industry told us that if we are just prepared to sacrifice the integrity of our rivers, our forests, our wildlife and our outstanding world heritage value wilderness, then we will have a jobs and wealth for everyone”.
“Well, clearly, that’s a lie, and we see that the real growth in jobs has been in the tourism and food sectors linked to protection of the Tarkine wilderness”.
“Now is the time for the governments to abandon the folly of new mines in the Tarkine, and to revisit the Cradle Coast Authority’s Tarkine Tourism Development Strategy that laid out a plan for 1100 jobs and a $58.2million visitor spend”.
“We can have our cake and eat it too, but only if we have the right recipe”.
The then Liberal opposition previously backed the Cradle Coast Authority’s Tarkine Tourism Development Strategy on it’s release in 2008.
Save the Tarkine lodges appeal against Nelson Bay River permit amendments
July 24th 2014
Save the Tarkine have today filed an application for Judicial Review in the Supreme Court challenging the amendments made to the Shree Minerals’ Nelson Bay River mine environmental permit. The original permit required that acid producing waste rock be stored inside the open cut pit, but following disclosure that the Shree Minerals’ mine would produce twenty times as much acid producing waste as disclosed in the assessment documents, an amendment was issued allowing acid producing waste to be stored above ground. The Environment Protection Authority’s original assessment had deemed above ground storage to be neither safe or secure.
“Save the Tarkine believes the Director of the EPA acted unlawfully in approving the permit amendment, and has done so in contradiction of the EPA’s assessment and the EPA Board’s original permit”, said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“The above ground storage of acid producing waste exacerbates the risks to the Nelson Bay River catchment, soils and groundwater, and threatened species within the vicinity of the mine”.
“While we remain of the view that this mine should not have been approved at all, this Judicial Review seeks to overturn the amendments and restore the original conditions for the storage of acid producing waste rock of the original permit.”
Shree Minerals has sought and been granted three permit amendments since November 2013.
The Nelson Bay River Mine is currently not operating.
Save the Tarkine seeks a Statement of Reasons for decision to approve Mt Lindsay Mine Lease
July 4th 2014
Save the Tarkine has today written to Minister for Resources, Paul Harriss, requesting a Statement of Reasons pursuant to section 29 of the Judicial Review Act 2000, for his approval of the Mt Lindsay mine lease in the reserved rainforests within the Tarkine.
“From the content of yesterday’s announcement by Venture Minerals, there is serious doubt that the legislative requirements for the issuing of a valid mine lease have been met”, said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“Unless the Minister can can provide evidence contradicting Venture Minerals’ statement, we remain of the view that the Mt Lindsay mine lease approval is unlawful.”
“We are requesting that the Minister provide this Statement of Reasons and put his reasons for the approval clearly on the public record.”
The Supreme Court has recently confirmed that Save the Tarkine (Tarkine National Coalition Inc.) is a person aggrieved under the Judicial Review Act 2000 in relation to mining activities in the Tarkine, and entitled to be provided with a Statement of Reasons.
The disputed Mt Lindsay mine lease was granted over 1029 hectares of rainforest in the Meredith Ranges Regional Reserve in the Tarkine. The area is the equivalent of 411 Melbourne Cricket Grounds
Minister in error in granting Mt Lindsay Mine Lease
July 3rd 2014
Today’s announcement by Venture Minerals that they have been granted a mine lease at Mt Lindsay raises critical questions over the legality of lease granted, and the current mine lease allocation system.
Venture Minerals, in their statement to the ASX say;
‘With the mining lease now granted the Company will focus on advancing the application documents required to obtain the State and Commonwealth environmental approvals necessary for the development of the Project’
‘Venture also continues to evaluate financing options for the future development of the Mt Lindsay Tin/Tungsten Project.’
However section 78a of the Mineral Resources Development Act clearly decrees that;
78A. When Minister may grant application
(1) The Minister may only grant an application for a lease if the Minister is satisfied that the applicant –
(a) has demonstrated that there is a sufficient quantity of minerals to justify mining; and
(b) intends to carry out mining operations under the lease; and
(c) intends to comply with this Act; and
(d) has an appropriate mining plan; and
(e) is likely to have sufficient financial and technical resources to carry out the mining plan; and
(f) has provided the Director with sufficient information relating to the likely impact on the environment; and
(g) has provided a security deposit.
“Clearly the relevant sections (e & f) of the Act have not been complied with and this mine lease appears to be unlawful. It is impossible to have sufficient information on environmental impacts before the assessment documents have even been produced let alone assessed, and the company admits it is still exploring financial options”, said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“After the financial and environmental messes left by recent mine failures, you would expect that the Minister would seek to protect Tasmania by at the very least following the lawful process as set out in the legislation.”
“This decision to grant a licence over an area equivalent to 411 Melbourne Cricket Grounds creates a significant sovereign risk issue. If there is a failure of the mine, what exposure does the Tasmanian taxpayer have to investors or suppliers if it is found by a court finds that there was no valid mine lease?”
“Or heavens forbid, if there was an accident involving injury or loss of life, does the State of Tasmania bear liability given it allowed mining to proceed without a valid mine lease?”
“The Minister should urgently revoke the invalid lease, and commit to a proper and lawful assessment process”.
Save the Tarkine welcomes today’s Supreme Court decision
June 18th 2014
Save the Tarkine has welcomed Chief Justice Blow’s decision in it’s Supreme Court case against the Director of the Environment Protection Authority Mr Alex Schaap. Save the Tarkine was successful in gaining an order requiring the Director to furnish a Statement of Reasons for the decision to issue an amendment to the permit conditions governing the Shree Minerals’ Nelson Bay River mine last November. The Statement of Reasons must now be furnished by 2 July 2014.
“We are pleased that the Court has upheld our right to receive a Statement of Reasons, following the unlawful refusal to provide this document by Mr Schaap”, said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“By refusing to grant this document when requested last November, Mr Schaap allowed the Shree Minerals Nelson Bay River mine project to proceed for seven months without the opportunity for review or possible challenge to the permit amendments – permit amendments that allowed for 20 times as much acid producing waste as was originally assessed”.
“That increased volume of acid producing waste rock is now sitting on the side of the mine, approximately 100 metres from the Nelson Bay River, in a manner that the original EPA assessment described as not safe or suitable, on a mine site that very likely will not recommence mining operations or rehabilitation activity”.
“Save the Tarkine will now await the Statement of Reasons, and then prudently assess whether our concerns with the permit amendment have been addressed before deciding on whether to pursue further challenge”.
Costs were awarded to Save the Tarkine.
Shree Minerals closure requires urgent action on rehabilitation plan
May 23rd 2014
Save the Tarkine has has urged the Federal Environment Minister and the Tasmanian EPA to act immediately to impose rehabilitation conditions on the Nelson Bay River mine after today’s company leaks have indicated it is to halt production in June.
The state and federal environment permits required Shree minerals to submit rehabilitation and closure plans one year after commencement on mining. The mine has closed after just six months of production.
“Save the Tarkine warned the EPA and the Minister that this permit requirement was a invitation for disaster. Every economist on the planet has been foreshadowing a fall in the iron ore price and our environmental regulators have chosen to ignore them”, said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“We are now left with a scar on the Tarkine’s landscape and a large amount of acid producing material sitting like a time bomb on the Nelson Bay River, with no certainty or commitments on how this will be dealt with.”
“The governments must take responsibility for their role in this debacle and act to enforce adequate and appropriate action on rehabilitation and worker entitlements, because given Mr Loyalka’s form at Pike River (NZ), you would be a fool to bet on him again.”
Federal Court Judgement in the Riley Creek Judicial Review case
May 15th 2014
The court has ruled against our case. We are disappointed but not defeated. Our legal team are reviewing the judgement and investigating grounds for appeal.
This is not over. We will continue to campaign for the protection of the Tarkine Wilderness, and will continue to oppose new mining in this unique and outstanding place.
I would like to take this chance to all those who have helped make this case possible, and urge you to hold the line with us. We will keep you up to date with developments in the coming weeks.
Venture Share Price Plummets
Venture Minerals continues their run of bad luck. That’s what happens when you earn a reputation for keeping your investors in the dark about environmental impacts and associated risks. Save the Tarkine has worked to ensure that investor are fully informed of the risks to the World Heritage Value Tarkine wilderness. Venture’s share price has plummeted 74% since the 2011 highs.
Shree Minerals admits acid producing waste to be twenty times higher than approvals for Tarkine mine
April 9th 2014
“More acid producing waste means greater risks to waterways and aquatic life, and surrounding flora and fauna.”
Shree Minerals disclosed the discrepancy in a request to relocate the storage of acid producing wastes to an above ground location, despite the original EPA assessment finding that there were no suitable and safe above ground storage solutions.
“Incoming Minister Groom must act with urgency to suspend mining operations while a proper, and public, assessment can be conducted this before Tasmania is saddled with yet another acid mine drainage disaster”.
Save the Tarkine is seeking legal advice on this matter.
Save the Tarkine responds to Liberal Government’s Forests policy
April 8th 2014
Tarkine forests campaigns to recommence.
The Tasmanian Liberal government’s announcement today that they will re-open logging in the 400,000 hectares of high conservation value forests protected under the Tasmanian Forests Agreement has been described as a foolish, retrograde step that only serves to re-open conflict and controversy in the Tasmanian community.
“Save the Tarkine was not a signatory to the agreement, and yet in good faith we negotiated with the ENGO signatories and made major concessions to achieve a collaborative solution to one of the longest running and most heated issues to face Tasmania,” said Save the Tarkine, Campaign Coordinator Scott Jordan.
“We made difficult concessions to forfeit conservation claims over some areas of high conservation rainforest in the Tarkine in order to see the permanent protection of the areas of the Tarkine reserved under the agreement. If the new Liberal Government wants to trash the agreement then they need to be on notice that if they won’t honour the reserves under the agreement, then they are also re-opening the conservation claims on the concessions made in the agreement”.
“We are prepared to tell the markets that the concessions we made, are no longer guaranteed”.
Save the Tarkine, while not a signatory, has voluntarily honoured the agreement since it’s signing.
“We will be writing to the members of the Legislative Council to ask them to stand against the Government on this ideologically driven agenda”.
Save the Tarkine applies to Supreme Court for release of secret EPA documents
January 29th 2014
Save the Tarkine has lodged an application in the Supreme Court seeking the release of documents pertaining to changes made to the environmental approval conditions for the Shree Minerals’ Nelson Bay River Mine in the Tarkine.
The EPA has granted permission to Shree Mineral’s to store acid producing waste rock above ground, in contravention of the original conditions, and against the advice given in the original assessment reports.
The EPA’s Environmental Assessment Report indicated (after apparently rigorous consideration) that there was “no suitable location on the site for above ground storage” and “To manage the risk of Acid Mine Drainage during the operation of the min and into the long-term, post closure, all PAF material must be stored in the DSO Pit, since this is
considered to be the only secure, long-term storage option.”
Despite this, the EPA Director subsequently revised the conditions to allow for above ground storage, after Shree Minerals disclosed higher levels of acid producing waste than originally submitted in the environmental assessment documents.
The EPA has refused to provide Save the Tarkine with a statement of reasons for this decision, or a copy of the supporting materials which explain the new storage proposal.
“Save the Tarkine has legitimate concerns regarding the changes to the storage arrangement and is seeking this information to determine potential water quality impacts, impacts on threatened orchid communities, and whether the Director’s decision exceeds his power,” said Campaign Coordinator Scott Jordan.
“It should alarm Tasmanians that after being serenaded with the tune that these mines will be ‘world’s best practise’, what we see is an instant watering down of environmental controls and secret dealings between Shree Minerals and the Director of the EPA.”
Venture Minerals continues to keep investors in the dark
November 21st 2013
For the second year running, Save the Tarkine has attended the Venture Minerals AGM to inform investors of the facts the company fails to disclose to investors.
The company has plans for multiple mines within the globally significant Tarkine wilderness reserves, home to over sixty threatened species including the last disease free populations of Tasmanian devil, and the largest temperate rainforest in the southern hemisphere.
“Venture continues to keep it’s investors in the dark about environmental impacts and risks to it’s proposed open cut and strip mines in the Tarkine wilderness reserves”, said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“The investors and the general public should have serious reservations about trusting a company with such a poor record of disclosure.”
“This company has no place in the Tarkine”.
Damage at West Point reprehensible
November 14th 2013
Save the Tarkine has described the damage to Aboriginal heritage sites at West Point as a reprehensible act of vandalism.
The West Point site, containing middens and hut depressions from a village site was recently damaged by illegal use of off road vehicles.
“It’s beyond comprehension what kind of idiot would commit such a selfish and destructive act against thirty thousand years of Aboriginal heritage”, said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“Our thoughts are with the Aboriginal community as yet again they must confront such a disrespectful and hurtful crime against their significant places.”
“While most users of the area do respect and cherish the Aboriginal history of the area, unfortunately there is an element of off road users that continue to willfully ignore the laws, and cause significant damage the area on a regular basis”.
Save the Tarkine is calling State and Federal governments to strengthen efforts to protect the National Heritage listed Tarkine coast.
Anyone having information relating to the offenders should contact Parks And Wildlife Service, or Tasmania Police.
Nelson Bay River Mine opening shameful day for environmental protection
October 31st 2013
The Save the Tarkine has described the opening of the Nelson Bay River mine in reserves within the northern Tarkine as a shameful day for the protection of the environment.
“This is a project that the Environment Departments own assessment report said will have a significant impact on the endangered Tasmanian devil, and advised that the mine would likely introduce the devil facial tumour disease into the last disease free population”, said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“Our grandchildren will look back at this day with shame at what we are allowing to happen.”
Save the Tarkine will continue to campaign against the operation of this mine.
Save the Tarkine to appeal Venture Minerals’ mine Commonwealth approval
RMPAT decision odd and disappointing
September 25 2013
The Save the Tarkine board has met overnight to consider legal advice, and has committed to lodging an application in the Federal Court for a Judicial Review of the decision to approve the Venture Minerals’ Riley Creek mine.
Save the Tarkine alleges that the approval decision made by former Environment Minister Mark Butler was unlawful.
“We believe that this case demonstrates the lack of regard for the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act in decisions affecting the Tarkine”, said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
The application will be lodged this week.
Save the Tarkine has described the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal decision handed down yesterday as odd and disappointing.
Despite dismissing the appeal, the published decision upholds concerns raised by Save the Tarkine and adds a number of new conditions relating to the Tasmanian devil, and requires the company to resubmit an erosion management plan following Venture Minerals conceding on Save the Tarkine’s case that the previously approved plan was non-compliant and would fail to address erosion at the proposed mine site.
“It is quite odd that the tribunal has acknowledged that we were correct, and in fact has applied new conditions to address those concerns, and yet dismisses our appeal”.
Save the Tarkine will be seeking advice on the decision.
Save the Tarkine commences Nelson Bay River Mine vigil
August 12th 2013
Save the Tarkine and partners have today commenced a vigil outside the Shree Minerals Nelson Bay River proposed mine.
“We are hear to bear witness to the destruction of this area, and the threat that this mine poses to the Tasmanian devil,” said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“We will be making sure the world knows what is happening here.”
Contractors entered the site around 11.00 am this morning in passenger vehicles, in contravention of permit conditions. Save the Tarkine is contacting the Environment Minister to alert him to this clear breach, and urge him to act immediately to suspend works on site.
Tarkine mine approval places politics over process
August 5th 2013
Save the Tarkine has described today’s decision to approve the Riley Creek Mine in the Tarkine wilderness as a shameful act of politics over process.
The proposed Riley Creek mine is already under appeal in the Tasmanian Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal, where last week Venture Minerals were forced to admit inadequacy of their environmental reports after the company’s expert witnesses agreed with the evidence tendered by Save the Tarkine’s experts around Tasmanian devil impact and erosion and watercourse impacts.
“The Minister has raced to rush this out for a perceived electoral gain, despite the Tribunal hearing last week that the company accepts significant flaws in the reports used to make the assessments, particularly around erosion and the impact on the endangered Tasmanian devil”, said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“The Minister has also failed to follow the guidelines produced by his predecessor requiring a cumulative approach to assessment of roadkill impacts of the three Venture Minerals projects.”
“This is a shameful decision that further compromises the integrity of Tarkine.”
Save the Tarkine is seeking a Statement of Reasons from the Minister.
Shree Minerals’ re-approval still fails to follow environment law
July 31st 2013
Save the Tarkine has described today’s decision as again failing to address the Minister’s lawful obligations, and effectively constituting a decision for extinction.
“It appears that the Minister has again ignored his legal responsibilities, and has failed to properly assess the impact on the endangered Tasmanian devil”, said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“The advice tendered by the Department clearly stated that the mine project is likely to introduce the Devil Facial Tumour Disease in to the last disease free stronghold. This Minister finds that acceptable.”
“Mark Butler is the new Minister for Extinction,” said Save the Tarkine Patron, Dr Bob Brown.
“Australia has two Ministers for mining, and no Minister for the Environment.”
Shree Minerals’ unlawful actions remain unprosecuted
July 25th 2013
Why is Shree Minerals a protected species?
Shree Minerals’ unlawful clearing of 5 hectares within a protected area remains unprosecuted despite two months since the Commonwealth Department of Environment, Water Sustainability and Population became aware of this action.
The clearing was conducted outside of the permits current at that time (and since set aside).
The then permits required Shree Minerals’ to submit decommissioning and mine closure plans to the Minister prior to any commencement of work on the site. The company had failed to do this, and had requested on two occasions that the Commonwealth waive that condition.
“There is no doubt that Shree Minerals were aware that they were acting unlawfully, and that the Commonwealth has been aware of this for two months and yet we see no prosecution,” said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“Why are Shree Minerals being treated as the protected species?”
“Even if the court hadn’t overturned the approvals, this action was still outside of the permit conditions and clearly unlawful”.
Under section 18.3 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the penalty is a maximum of $8.5million for a body corporate (50,000 penalty units)
Departmental advice slams mine’s impact on the Tasmanian devil
July 23rd 2013
Minister declines visit to the Tarkine.
Departmental advice tendered in evidence during Save the Tarkine’s successful Federal Court challenge to the Commonwealth approval of Shree Minerals’ Nelson Bay River mine in the Tarkine show that the Minister was advised that the proposed mine development would likely introduce the Devil Facial Tumour Disease into the Tarkine’s disease free stronghold, and that proposed offsets were inadequate. (excerpts below).
The Approved Conservation Advice clearly states that a business as usual scenario will lead to extinction in the wild within 25-35 years (from the 2009 publication).
“The documents tendered in court clearly showed the former Minister was aware that the decision to approve the Shree Minerals’ mine would ensure the spread of the disease, therefore condemning the Tasmanian devil to extinction in the wild,” said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“This is no longer just the conservationists and concerned scientists, this is the specific departmental advice provided to the former Minister Burke”.
“If Minister Butler thinks he can follow his predecessor’s lead, he needs to understand that it will be without the secrecy that surrounded the advice on the previous decision, and that it will be challenged again in the courts”.
The Minister has declined an offer by Save the Tarkine to visit the Tarkine to show the Minister the area’s of concern. Save the Tarkine will meet with the Minister in Burnie tomorrow.
From the Recommendation Report Nelson Bay River Magnetite / Hematite Mine, Tasmania (EPBC 2011/5846), Department for Water, Environment, Sustainability, Population and Communities.
21. The primary threat to the survival of the Tasmanian Devil is Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), an infectious, malignant cancer spread by biting and fighting over food mating, establishing dominance or during juvenile dispersal. Populations in the north-west (including the study area) are considered the last stronghold that is disease free. There is a real risk that indirect impacts from project activities could increase the spread of this disease, endangering the north-west population stronghold.
47. The department concludes that based on the current information (final EIS), the proposed offset of part of the mining lease will be inadequate compensation for the loss of in excess of 150ha of habitat for the affected listed threatened species, particularly the Tasmanian Devil.
The greater threat to the Tasmanian Devil population in the Tarkine region is the spread of Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). The Tasmanian Devil population in the Tarkine is currently DFTD free and further development in the region may accelerate the spread of the disease.
From the Supplementary Recommendation Report Nelson Bay River Magnetite / Hematite Mine, Tasmania (EPBC 2011/5846), Department for Water, Environment, Sustainability, Population and Communities.
18. The department considers that the proposal is also likely to facilitate the spread of the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) by promoting increased mobility and intermingling of Tasmanian devils, through increased availability of attractants such as anthropogenic food waste and roadkill, and through dispersal routes such as cleared road verges and other miscellaneous cleared areas. These potential impacts are difficult to quantify, but are considered to be significant because:
· DFTD is the key threatening process for the species;
· the proposal is in an area that is currently relatively unaffected by DFTD; and
· the impacts of the proposal contribute to the cumulative impacts of proposed and likely development within the region.
21. The FHPZ (fauna habitat protection zone) proposed by the proponent is not considered by the department to constitute effective mitigation or compensation for likely impacts – the habitat of the FHPZ is of questionable quality in comparison to that which would be lost, the security of the FHPZ is limited to the life of the mine, and inadequate consideration has been given to impacts on Tasmanian devils already resident in the FHPZ.
23. (In relation to the Tasmanian Devil) However, the department considers that residual significant impacts remain likely, particularly in view of potential cumulative impacts of development in north-western Tasmania,
27. (In relation to the Spot-tailed quoll) However, the department considers that residual significant roadkill impacts remain likely, particularly in view of potential cumulative impacts of development in north-western Tasmania,
31. However, the department considers that residual significant roadkill impacts remain likely in the case of the wedge-tailed eagle, particularly in view of potential cumulative impacts of development in north-western Tasmania.
No quick fix for Tarkine mine
July 18th 2013
Calls by Tasmanian Minerals Council chief Terry Long, Tasmanian Deputy Premier Bryan Green and Braddon MP Sid Sidebottom for some kind of technical or administrative fix to yesterdays Federal Court decision to set aside approvals for the Nelson Bay River mine in the Tarkine, are both uninformed and an example of the kind of corrupted process that resulted in the Federal Court decision.
“The failure of the Minister and his department to consult the Approved Conservation Advice was not an adminstrative oversight. The Approved Conservation Advice is the key source of advice on which the Minister must rely to determine how best to protect the Tasmanian devil in any assessment,” said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“You can’t just add it to the appendix after the event and publish the same decision. The court didn’’t say the Minister forgot to list it, it actually said the Minister failed to consult it at all,”
“The comments by Long, Green and Sidebottom show an example of trying to solve a problem by repeating the action that created it”.
“The Minister must either let the court decision stand as the final judgement, appeal to the full bench of the Federal Court, or go back to the start of the process and conduct a proper legal assessment,”
“Anything short of this will end up back before a court on exactly the same grounds”.
Save the Tarkine lodges appeal against flawed Riley Creek Mine approval
June 6th 2013
Save the Tarkine has lodged it’s appeal against the flawed and invalid approvals granted to Venture Minerals Riley Creek mine.
The approval by West Coast Council was subject to conditions set by the Tasmanian EPA, despite failing to meet the EPA’s assessment guidelines set out for this project.
This includes a failure to assess the cumulative impacts on the Tasmanian devil of the three Venture Minerals projects as specifically required in the EPA’s published guidelines* for the project assessment.
“Save the Tarkine will be asking the Resource management and Planning Appeals Tribunal to overturn this flawed and invalid approval,” said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“Short cuts are definitely not appropriate mining, and the community should be very concerned when Government agencies begin to facilitate short cuts for mining companies”.
* from the EPA’s project specific assessment guidelines;
5.2 Cumulative Impacts
The DPEMP should consider the cumulative impacts on protected matters, of the proposal with other current or planned developments in the vicinity of the site (particularly the Livingstone DSO Hematite Project (EPBC 2012/6342) and the Mt Lindsay Tin-Tungsten-Magnetite-Copper Mine (EPBC 2011/6178)). Such impacts may include the potential increase of traffic between mine sites that will have a likely impact on Tasmanian Devils, Spotted-tailed Quolls and Wedge-tailed Eagles.
Federal Court extends injunction on Tarkine mine – Awards costs to applicant
May 21st 2013
Justice Marshall has this morning granted an extension of the injunction against works at the Shree Minerals’ Nelson Bay River proposed mine in the Tarkine.
The injunction will remain in effect until a final decision is made later in the year on the Federal Court challenge to the mine approval.
The court ordered Shree Minerals pay the applicant’s costs.
“We are pleased with the outcome of this morning’s hearing. This is welcome respite for the survival of the Tasmanian devil,” said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
Riley Creek mine. Forest deal undermined
May 17th 2013
Just a fortnight after the amended forests agreement passed state parliament, the southern Tarkine protected area at Riley Creek has had a strip mine approved. The Venture Minerals’ mine will remove all the vegetation at the site, rainforest included.
Bob Brown, Patron of Save the Tarkine, says that the go-ahead for the Tarkine mining operation within the yet-to-be gazetted reserve has been given by the so-called Environment Protection Authority.
“Some protected area, some protection authority!”, he said.
“The Tasmanian public had a right to think that the forests protected under the ‘peace deal’ would be environmentally safe. This shatters that illusion,” Brown said.
“It is now up to the Federal Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke, to put a halt to this invasion of the Tarkine forest peace zone.”
“Minister Burke excused his refusal to grant heritage protection to the Tarkine by claiming that the Tasmanian Forests Agreement would protect the Tarkine. Well what is that protection worth if it allows open cut and strip mining?”
EPA’s half baked assessment farcical. Burke must recall the assessment
May 16th 2013
Save the Tarkine has expressed disbelief that the EPA has today ticked off on Venture Minerals Riley Creek strip mine in the Tarkine despite the proponent’s documentation clearly failing to meet the requirements outline in the assessment guidelines.
The assessment guidelines clearly required the Riley Creek strip mine proposal’s impacts to be considered against the cumulative impact of Venture Minerals’ three proposed mines in the southern Tarkine.
So far only the Riley Creek documentation has been submitted for assessment, making the proper assessment of cumulative impacts impossible.
“This is laughable and the EPA has lost all credibility as a body to assess the impacts of major projects,” said Save the Tarkine Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“The proposed permit conditions place no requirements to protect the Tasmanian devil, other than submitting a report on how many have been killed”.
“And as with the previous Nelson Bay River approval, the company has been asked to submit a Decommissioning and Rehabilitation Plan after the mining has commenced,”
“Federal Minister Tony Burke must now admit that trusting the Tasmanian Government to conduct assessments in his stead was a mistake, and recall the Venture Minerals projects for a proper federally managed assessment”.
Save the Tarkine will continue to campaign against the Venture Minerals proposed mines.
Federal Court issues an injunction on Nelson Bay River Mine
May 10th 2013
Justice Marshall in the Federal Court has granted a temporary injunction order to immediately stop construction at the proposed Nelson Bay River iron ore mine in the Tarkine.
Proponent Shree Minerals had confirmed that it had commenced work, despite the Federal Court case challenging the legality of the Federal Environment Minister’s approval for the project.
The injunction application will continue to be heard again on 21st May 2013.
FEDERAL COURT SETS ASIDE SHREE MINERALS MINE APPROVALS
Save the Tarkine scored a massive victory in the Federal Court after Justice Marshall ruled the approval of the Nelson Bay River mine invalid. Former Minister Tony Burke had failed to consider the Approved Conservation Advice for the Tasmanian devil as required under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The Minister and the company have 21 days to appeal.
FEDERAL COURT GRANTS INJUNCTION AGAINST SHREE MINERALS MINE
Justice Marshall in the Federal Court has granted a temporary injunction order to immediately stop construction at the proposed Nelson Bay River iron ore mine in the Tarkine.
Proponent Shree Minerals had confirmed that it had commenced work, despite the Federal Court case challenging the legality of the Federal Environment Minister’s approval for the project.
The injunction application will continue to be heard again on 21st May, with the case being heard from 10-13th September.
BOB BROWN JOINS THE REBRANDED SAVE THE TARKINE
Two exciting new announcements by Tarkine National Coalition today.
First, we unveiled our new branding and from today we will be campaigning as Save the Tarkine.
And second, we have held a press conference to announce that Dr Bob Brown has accepted our invitation to become the first Patron of the Save the Tarkine campaign.
We are thrilled to have Bob join the Save the Tarkine team.
LEGAL CHALLENGE TO MINE APPROVAL
Save the Tarkine (Tarkine National Coalition) has lodged a case in the Federal Court seeking a Judicial Review of Minister Burke’s decision to grant environmental approval to Shree Minerals proposed mine in the Tarkine.
Save the Tarkine believes that the Minister has erred in law, and is challenging the decision to approve the mine despite known impacts on the Tasmanian devil, a Commonwealth listed endangered species.
“We will argue that Minister Burke has not acted in accordance with the provisions of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, and as such the approvals granted are invalid”, said Save the Tarkine’s Campaign Coordinator, Scott Jordan.
“This mine should not have received approval, and we are asking the court to rule against it.”.
BURKE FAILS TARKINE
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has ignored the recommendations of the Australian Heritage Council and listed a paltry 4% of the 433,000 hectares recommended. This is a massive betrayal of his obligations as the chief protector of Australia’s environment and a gift to the mining corporations who seek to turn the Tarkine into a series of strip mines. This is outrageous and Tony Burke needs to hear just how angry the Australian public is. Tell him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter on @Tony_Burke
And rest assured, the campaign continues!
Scott Jordan, Campaign Coordinator, Tarkine National Coalition.