Australian news, and some related international items

Environmentalists and Traditional Owners very dissatisfied with Western Australia’s Environment Department ‘s ruling supporting uranium project.

Green groups angry over uranium project milestone, Stuart McKinnonThe West Australian, 16 Dec 21,

Environmentalists are livid after Vimy Resources was deemed to have met a key milestone in its approvals process that allows it to pursue the development of its Mulga Rock uranium project.

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation has ruled that the company has begun “substantial commencement” of the project 290km east of Kalgoorlie, an essential component of its approval five years ago.

The former Barnett Government approved the controversial project on December 16, 2016, but ordered that Vimy must have substantially commenced work within five years.

The company had submitted to the DWER that substantial works had begun last month based on the recent clearing of about 143ha, expenditure of more than $20 million over the past five years and a further $8m to be spent on early works before the end of January.

But green groups and Traditional Owners say the decision to allow the project to proceed is unjustified and inconsistent with the evidence.

A statement released jointly by the Upurli Upurli Nguratja claimants and the WA Conservation Council argued the company had failed to meet with the registered Native Title claim group, which is entitled to negotiate a land use agreement.

They say to advance the project without consulting with the group is disrespectful and out of step with community expectation and best industry practice.

Vimy’s works to date have been a clumsy last-minute attempt to hold on to controversial environmental approvals for a toxic commodity that has no social licence.

Upurli Upurli Nguratja claimant Debbie Carmody said the decision had sidelined the group’s voice and undermined the Native Title process.

“We will continue to fight this project and stand up for our country and culture,” she said.

CCWA Nuclear Free campaigner Mia Pepper said it was fanciful to say the project had substantially commenced.

“Vimy’s works to date have been a clumsy last-minute attempt to hold on to controversial environmental approvals for a toxic commodity that has no social licence,” she said.

Ms Pepper said the clearance work completed to date represented just 4.27 per cent of the intended clearing and the company’s expenditure represented just 2.2 per cent of the total estimated capital costs.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s Nuclear Free campaigner Dave Sweeney said the mine would cause unacceptable harm to the environment, including damage to vital habitat for the endangered sandhill dunnart, which is found in only a handful of locations across Australia.

The CCWA and the ACF, which have opposed uranium mining in WA for decades, said they were reviewing today’s decision and exploring all avenues to stop the mine from proceeding.

Vimy executive director Steven Michael said the confirmation of substantial commencement was testament to careful planning and executive by the company and was consistent with the Mulga Rock Project Implementation Plan.

“Vimy can now advance Mulga Rock to the next stage of development and will continue to work closely with State and Federal departments to secure the remaining approvals required to bring the project into production by 2025,” he said.

However Vimy is yet to make a final investment decision or nail down a funding solution for the $US255m ($355m) project.

Its shares closed up 1.5c, or 8 per cent, at 20.5c on Thursday.

December 17, 2021 - Posted by | environment, politics, uranium, Western Australia

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