The Tarkine Debate - Tasmania

I understand that jobs are hard to find Australia wide, and Tasmania even harder ……
I would love to see this country go forward to become the leader in renewable, sustainable industries, after all our scientists led the solar field for decades.
I understand this country is being supported by the mining industry at the moment, after all it provides my income ( at the moment )

Over the life of the Shree Nelson Bay Mine, 30 years, the company forecast to generate only 125 jobs. (2). I realise this is important to one person if you are in the 125, but 25,000 people ( 2010 government figures ) are employed in tourism and 125 jobs is a pretty small contribution of the total 230,000 employed in Tasmania.

I’m just not sure that all the people involved directly with this struggle have read the facts of the proposal, so I have included the link to the permit, that has been submitted to the Tasmania government, for mining in this area.

If you are interested in reading it like i did, this is the direct link (1) (2)

There are a few things in this proposal I struggle with

  • There is a plan for 10 mines for this region, 8 of them are open pit mines, thats ten new mines proposed for the Tarkine over the next five years.
  • No land has to be rehabilitated unless it has not been used in Mining operations for two years.
  • EPA document says they will mine up to 400,000 tonnes of material for removal every year (1), however their own mine forecasts say that one mine alone is targeting 12 million tonnes over 10 years (2), that doesn’t add up!
    400,000 × 12 = 4.8 million allowed to be mined but they are targeting 12 million.( 2)
  • All water management put in place is to be built to with stand flooding of a 1 in 20 year flood rule, which is bizarre because all other construction in Australia has to comply with 1 in 100 year flooding rule.
  • The Tarkine and these regions are a known breeding area for Masked Owl, Tasmania Devil and Spotted Quolls.

The Tasmanian Masked Owl is considered to be Endangered under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995, because of its small population (estimated at about 1330 breeding birds, or 615 pairs) as well as ongoing habitat loss, especially of old-growth forest suitable for breeding.

The Tasmania Devil was listed as vulnerable under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 in 2005 and the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 in 2006, which means that it is at risk of extinction in the “medium term”.

The Spotted Quoll is listed by the IUCN on the Red List of Threatened Species with the status “near threatened”. The Australian Department of the Environment and Heritage considers the northern subspecies D. m. gracilis as endangered.

So we have three species all under threat and the plan put in place, is if they discover breeding animals they will put a 50m buffer zone around the animals until they have finished breeding …. they wont stop clearing, they will just take a wide berth for a little while, and then cleared the land once they have finished breeding. I might add, that clear felling is done with dozers and chainsaws.

  • All environmental reporting is done on an annual base, once ever 12 months, seems a long time for a potential world heritage listed area don’t you think?
  • The tailings dam for one of the mines, the Shree Nelson Bay site is 40 ha in size, that is a very large body of waste water for a natural forest to have to deal with and that is only one of the 10 mines. Both creeks on the Nelson Bay site run off into the Nelson Bay river within 1 km of the tailing dam. Doesn’t give much chance to monitor run off if things go wrong.

Other Facts

  • Magnetite is used to remove arsenic from a water supply, production of steel, as a thermite, as well as in making of fertilizers. It is the most magnetic of all minerals which occur naturally on Earth. So the demand in steel making, electronics ( Magnets ) and gold production is high.
  • The Tarkine is Australia’s largest remaining single tract of temperate rainforest. It contains approximately 1,800 km² of rainforest and around 400 km² of eucalyptus forest.
  • In December 2009, the Tarkine was listed as a National Heritage Area following an Emergency National Heritage Listing. However on the 8th February 2013 Minister Tony Burke announced that he would reject advice from the Australian Heritage Council that 433,000 hectares should be heritage listed and instead apply a National Heritage Listing only to the 21,000 hectares contained in a 2 km wide section along the coastline. Which strangely enough does not include the mining leases!

I believe this is the area for one of the proposed mine sites, Button grass plains with Mt. Balfour in the background.

Photo from the Tarkine PRO Development GROUP’s facebook page.

I realise there is alot of emotion involved in this debate.

To Be Continued …….

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