ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES STALL CAPE ALUMINA

Written on the 14 May 2010

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES STALL CAPE ALUMINA

A BAUXITE mining company has locked horns with the State Government over Wild Rivers legislation, citing a project in Cape York that could boost GDP by $1.2 billion.

An Economic Impact Assessment (EIA) has shown Cape Alumina Limited’s (CBX) proposed Pisolite Hills bauxite project would bring a significant boost to the economy, unless the Wenlock River Basin is protected under upcoming legislation.

CBX managing director Paul Messenger, says a balance between responsible mining development and the protection of natural values can be achieved.

“The company acknowledges that the Wenlock River catchment contains some areas of natural environmental values that are worthy of protection and protecting the environment is an integral part of our approach to business,” he says.

“However, the need to protect the environment and the so-called High Preservation Areas (HPA) must be supported by sound scientific assessment, and science should not become subservient to a politically motivated environmental agenda.

“The proposed mining area is stringy bark country on which cattle have grazed for more than 100 years.”

State Minister for natural resources Stephen Robertson says new developments are encouraged, but the Wild Rivers Act ensures there’s not a detrimental impact on the environment.

“Any reasonable reading of the Wild Rivers Act would show that it does balance economic opportunities with environmental needs,” he says.

“As part of the Wild Rivers Declaration assessment process, we are committed to working with local communities and local stakeholders to address all concerns.

“That is why, in relation to Wenlock, the department has sought independent advice on the competing claims of a range of stakeholders, so that all stakeholders can be assured the final decision will be both robust and transparent.”

The objective of the act is to preserve some of the country’s last remaining pristine waterways, but existing developments continue unaffected.

The EIA conducted by Synergies Economic Consulting found that construction costs of $380 million in Pisolite Hills would likely lead to flow-on activity of $771 million.

Once the mine reaches target capacity it is expected to boost Gross State Product (GSP) by $118 million per annum over its 15-year life.

The $1.2 billion GDP boost is predicted in Net Present Value (NPV) terms.


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