New mine challenge looms

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - War­ren Hately

The Mar­garet River re­gion is fac­ing a new min­ing challenge.

Pro­po­nents have no­ti­fied the Shire of Au­gusta-Mar­garet River about their in­ten­tion to lodge four new min­ing lease ap­pli­ca­tions cov­er­ing “ex­ten­sive ar­eas” of the Au­gusta-Mar­garet River shire, in­clud­ing be­neath the Witch­cliffe Eco-Vil­lage and the banks of the Black­wood River.

The mat­ter was raised as ur­gent busi­ness at Wed­nes­day night’s Shire coun­cil meet­ing in Cowara- mup, with sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor Dale Put­land say­ing he wanted to “nip these in the bud” as soon as pos­si­ble.

Al­though de­tails were scarce at the time of go­ing to print, Dr Put­land said the pro­posed ex­trac­tion leases tar­geted re­sources 30m un­der­ground. The Times un­der­stands coal, gold and min­eral sands are the sub­jects of the lease.

Coun­cil­lors voted unan­i­mously to en­dorse Shire di­rec­tors to write to the De­part­ment of Mines, In­dus­try Reg­u­la­tion and Safety out­lin­ing the coun­cil’s fierce op­po­si­tion to con­sid­er­a­tion of any min­ing ap­pli­ca­tions in the re­gion.

The no­tice evoked shades of the 2010 Os­ming­ton coal mine saga, first re­ported by the Times af­ter it emerged the Office of State Devel-

op­ment vis­ited the re­gion to brief elected mem­bers about moves by a con­tract miner to de­velop the project.

It trig­gered a long and ar­du­ous com­mu­nity cam­paign led by Os­ming­ton farmer Brent Wat­son un­der the No Coali­tion ban­ner.

The State Gov­ern­ment even­tu­ally in­ter­vened to place a 240sqkm ban on min­ing cen­tred on the Os­ming­ton re­gion.

At the time, it was known ex­ten­sive ar­eas east of Witch­cliffe were sub­ject to pre­vi­ous min­eral ex­plo­ration.

Dr Put­land said the ap­pli­cants were re­quired to no­tify lo­cal gov­ern­ments of in­ten­tions to ap­ply for min­ing leases.

No ap­pli­ca­tions have yet been put out for pub­lic ad­ver­tis­ing.

This week’s coun­cil res­o­lu­tion in­structed of­fi­cers to pro­vide the Shire’s pre­vi­ous de­tailed as­sess­ment of the en­vi­ron­men­tal risks from the Os­ming­ton pro­posal, backed by ge­o­log­i­cal and hy­drolog- ical science pro­vided by ex­pert Peter Lane, now a Shire coun­cil­lor.

Au­gusta-based Cr Mike Smart noted the his­tory of BHP’s failed Beenup mine should also be given, with the en­vi­ron­men­tal watch­dog even­tu­ally crack­ing down on the project, which left an acid sul­phate slug threat­en­ing lo­cal wa­ter­ways — since re­me­di­ated.

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