Indigenous people living in the area have a bad history with uranium developments. It’s a few hundred kilometres from Cundalee, the mission where Spinifex people from the Great Victoria Desert were placed after being pushed off their traditional lands by the British government’s nuclear testing program in Maralinga, South Australia, in the 1950s and 60s
Pilanguru people to fight on as uranium mine gets environmental approval
Traditional owners say the Indigenous community has not been adequately consulted about Vimy Resources’ planned Mulga Rock open-pit mine, Guardian, Calla Wahlquist, 15 Aug 16, Traditional owners have vowed to fight a proposed uranium mine at Mulga Rock, about 240km west of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, which was given conditional environmental approval on Monday.
The Environmental Protection Authority of WA recommended the Barnett government approve construction of the open-pit mine and uranium processing plant, operated by Perth-based Vimy Resources Limited, after a three-month public environmental review. Continue reading
The winning argument against the mine A joint submission was provided to the Yeelirrie Public Environment Review by the Conservation Council of WA, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth Australia, The Wilderness Society, the Anti-Nuclear Alliance of WA, the West Australia Nuclear Free
Alliance and the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance.
Amongst other points, they called for the project to be rejected “on the grounds that the Yeelirrie Subterranean Community, a Priority 1 Ecological Community (PEC) comprises a series of highly endemic, diverse stygofauna and troglofauna species within multiple calcrete habitats). The impacts of the proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine, predominantly the associated groundwater drawdown, pose an unacceptable risk that could see a number of subterranean species become extinct (particularly 15 species that are currently only known from the direct impact zone).”
The EPA decision was based on the impacts on subterranean fauna, and disregarded other points made in the submission.
The Wongutha Traditional Owners have been fighting this project for over 40 years.
WA EPA rejects proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine, Online Opinion, By Mara Bonacci – posted Tuesday, 16 August 2016 After nearly 3,000 people lodged submissions with the Western Australian EPA in opposition to the proposed uranium mine at Yeelirrie, on August 3 the EPA recommended that the project be rejected. Traditional Owners and environmentalists welcomed the decision, but remain wary……. Continue reading
Western Australia’s EPA approves Vimy uranium mine, but Conservation Council and Aborigines oppose it
Vimy Resources uranium mine east of Kalgoorlie given environmental approval, ABC News, By Laura Gartry , 16 Aug 16, A new uranium mine in Western Australia’s Goldfields has been recommended for approval by the state’s environmental watchdog, just weeks after a similar proposal in the area was knocked back.
The Environmental Protection Authority [EPA] granted the approval for Vimy Resources’ Mulga Rock uranium project, which is 240 kilometres east-north-east of Kalgoorlie, subject to a range of conditions.
Final approval is still required from both the state and federal environment ministers…….
Earlier this month, the EPA rejected Cameco Australia’s Yeelirrie uranium project after it deemed there was too much risk to the area’s subterranean fauna.
The Canadian company had sought to mine up to 7,500 tonnes of UOC per year from the Yeelirrie deposit, about 420 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and 70 kilometres south-west of Wiluna.
The proposal had attracted protests, including from traditional owner and chair of WA nuclear free alliance Kado Muir, who argued there was no broad community support for uranium mining in WA…….
More than 1,000 submissions were received during the 12-week public review period…….
Two other WA uranium projects have received EPA and ministerial approval in recent years, including the Wiluna uranium mine and the Kintyre uranium project, 270 kilometres north east of Newman.
Vimy Resources faces many hurdles and road blocks and today’s EPA recommendation is a long way from a green light for mining yellow cake at Mulga Rock,” Council campaigner Mia Pepper said.
Pila Nguru Aboriginal Corporation chair Bruce Hogan said the site was culturally significant. “We don’t want that mine to go ahead. We will fight against that mine at Mulga Rock,” Mr Hogan said.
Spinifex Pilki elder Sandra Evans said traditional owners from the Great Victoria Desert area were not consulted properly. “There are a lot of women’s sites there – they didn’t come to talk to the tribal women from there about clearing the grass trees and other special places,” she said.
“Uranium is different to other minerals – it’s dangerous. If it leaves our country and goes somewhere else – that’s still our responsibility, we worry about that.”
The EPA’s report is open for a two-week public appeal period.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-15/epa-approves-uranium-mine-near-kalgoorlie/7734798
WA EPA rejects proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine, Online Opinion, By Mara Bonacci – posted Tuesday, 16 August 2016 “…….Yeelirrie is located 420 km north of Kalgoorlie in the mid-west region of WA, the land of the Wongutha people. Yeelirrie is the name of a local sheep station and, in the local Aboriginal language, means “place of death”.
In 1973 Western Mining Corporation (WMC) found a uranium deposit there. The Yeelirrie Mine Proposal was submitted to the WA Department of Conservation and Environment in 1979. The proposal was for the development of an open cut mine, ore treatment plant, town and ancillary services and 850 employees. Environmental approval was given by both state and federal governments.
Trial mines were dug in the 1980s, which found the first large scale calcrete orebody in the world. It is estimated that around 195 tonnes of yellowcake were mined in these trials. WMC spent $35 million preparing to develop the mine until the 1983 federal election and subsequent implementation of the ALPs “three mines policy” in 1984, limiting Australia’s number of uranium mines to three.
In 2005, the mine was acquired from WMC by BHP Billiton, who concluded one stage of exploration mining. Then in 2012, Canadian mining company Cameco bought the deposit from BHP for $430 million….
Cameco’s Yeelirrie mine proposal includes:
- A 9 km long, 1.5 km wide and 10 m deep open pit mine
- 14 million tonnes of overburden
- Using 8.7 million litres of water a day
- Producing 7,500 tonnes per year of uranium (10 percent of annual world demand)
- To be transported by four road trains a week
- It would produce 126,000 tonnes per year of CO2 emissions
- 36 million tonnes of tailings stored in the open pit2,421 hectares would be cleared
- 22 years of operation
- Highly variable work force – average of 300………http://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18451&page=1
Environment groups and Traditional Owners have vowed to fight the proposed Mulga Rock uranium mine, 260 kilometres north-east of Kalgoorlie, despite today’s recommendation by the state EPA that the Environment Minister approve the mine.
Environment groups and Traditional Owners said the mine threatened the pristine environmentally and culturally significant area.
Bruce Hogan from the Council of Tribal Elders and Chair of Pilanguru Native Title Group said “We use to go out there with our Elders. We can’t see how this mine could go ahead. The seven sister’s tjukupa (dreaming) goes through there and the two wadis (lore men) went through that area too. The elders use to take us there for cultural practice, they would leave us there for a few days and then come back to pick us up. We don’t want that mine to go ahead. We will fight against that mine at Mulga Rock.”
Conservation Council Nuclear Free Campaigner Mia Pepper said “Conservation groups will be lodging an official appeal against this recommendation by the EPA.
“The Mulga Rock uranium proposal is unsafe and unwanted. The company has continually dismissed the cultural values and importance of the area and has failed to properly consult with Traditional Owners.”
“The Mulga Rock area is a rare and significant environment and part of the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological Community. The planned mine threatens a number of rare and endangered species. Taking this unique and pristine desert ecosystem and turning it into a polluted, radioactive uranium mine is not a proposal that should ever be entertained” Ms Pepper concluded.
“The planned mine does not enjoy bi-partisan state political support, broad social license or favourable market conditions,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney.
“Vimy Resources faces many hurdles and roadblocks. Today’s EPA recommendation is a long way from a green light for mining yellow cake at Mulga Rock.”
Native title win in WA’s remote desert https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/32304974/native-title-win-in-was-remote-desert/#page1 AAP on August 11, 2016,
They first applied for native title over the land, which straddles the Shire of East Pilbara and the Shire of Halls Creek, in December 2012.
Federal Court of Australia Justice Michael Barker said none of the claimants now lived permanently in the area but continued to adhere to traditional laws and customs by visiting and maintaining a physical association with the country, and passing on traditional songs, stories and knowledge of sites to children and grandchildren.
“The claimants have maintained a presence in the determination area since the acquisition of British sovereignty,” Justice Barker said. “In addition, evidence of the continuing physical or spiritual involvement of the claimants in the determination area is accepted to conclude that this connection has not been severed.
“Ultimately, the state is satisfied that the material presented is sufficient to evidence the maintenance of connection according to traditional laws and customs.”
Solar could be game changer for rural communities going off the grid, ABC News By Kathryn Diss , 7 Aug 16 For decades, farmers in Western Australia’s south have put up with the most unreliable electricity supply in the state, now they are about to find out if they can live off-grid, surviving on solar power instead.
- Farmers in Western Australia are investigating using stand-alone solar power systems
- Solar battery technology is making this more easily achieved, and the State Government will pay for it
- Power-supply to south west WA has been unreliable, a problem in other regional areas
Ros and Bernie Giles are part of a handful of farming families giving the technology a crack after living through years of frustration at their farm in West River, 500 kilometres south of Perth.
“Summer is our worst time, we seem to have more fluctuations then,” Ms Giles said……
Power problems span farmland across nation
WA’s south west grid spans more than 250,000 square kilometres, an area the size of the United Kingdom, yet it only services a 50th of the population, making it unreliable and expensive to maintain.
But the power problems faced by the people of West River are hardly unique.
Matthew Warren heads up the Australian Energy Council, which formed earlier this year to respond to the world’s rapidly changing energy market.
He said most edge-of-grid communities around the nation suffered the same problems……….
Renewable energy reaches tipping point
The move by WA’s Liberal-National Government to invest in the technology is seen as a step towards a greener future.
It is not just environmental goals driving the innovation but the financial realities of providing an expensive poles and wires network versus the improving economics of renewables……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-06/solar-could-be-game-changer-for-rural-communities-on-grid-edge/7681398
Rio Tinto snubbed by Pilbara’s Aboriginal elder, The Australian, s Andrew Burrell The Australian Business Review. August 6, 2016
“Unfortunately, we cannot stand here today and welcome you to country when our people are worse off than when no mining existed,” the elders said.
Aboriginal elders refused to perform a “welcome to country” ceremony at a Rio Tinto (RIO) function to mark the company’s 50-year anniversary of mining in the Pilbara in a protest over what they say is a failure to pay royalties and create jobs for indigenous communities.
In an embarrassing snub, the Eastern Guruma native title holders instead took to the stage at the event in Tom Price to attack Rio’s record in the Pilbara.
Rio has long touted its credentials on indigenous issues, describing itself as one of the largest private sector employers of indigenous Australians.
The company has no legal obligation to pay mining royalties to the native title holders on six of its Pilbara mines because they were established before the Native Title Act came into effect in 1994.
At the recent function, three of the Eastern Guruma elders — Sue Boyd, July Hicks and Judith Hughes — refused to perform a “welcome to country” ceremony that is commonly used by traditional owners to welcome visitors to their land.
“Unfortunately, we cannot stand here today and welcome you to country when our people are worse off than when no mining existed,” the elders said.
“We are not being paid compensation for three Rio Tinto mines operating on our country. We are not being employed. We are not getting the contracts and business opportunities that the mining industry prides itself on.
“Outcomes for the Eastern Guruma people have been poor.
“Rio always wants us to consent to the destruction of our country for mining so that Rio can make more money for its shareholders. None of us know exactly how much money Rio Tinto has made from mining our traditional county.”…….. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/rio-tinto-snubbed-by-pilbaras-aboriginal-elders/news-story/32fb4168c6d295c63dce2ea95afcafef
Traditional Owners welcome Yeelirrie decision and re-affirm anti uranium mining position https://nuclearfree.wordpress.com/media/ 4th August 2016
“Traditional Owners at Yeelirrie have fought against uranium mining for over 40 years.
The decision from the EPA comes as welcome relief but Traditional Owners remain wary.
“Richard Evans Koara elder and co-founder of the West Australian Nuclear Free Alliance has said “The EPA decision to protect subterranean fauna is a good decision and the right decision and we are happy with the outcome.
But we believe the EPA has underestimated the risk to bush foods, public health and water and most importantly our cultural heritage and our community’s opposition to the mine.”
“I invite the Minister (who has never spoken to us before) to come and meet with us the Traditional Owners of Yeelirrie before making a decision about our country. No Minister has come to talk to us about that country.
Yeelirrie is an important place in our culture, it is a dreaming site it important to us and other tribes around us.
In the short time since WA was colonised there have been drastic changes to the ecosystem and the country.” …
“It’s not just about protecting this country for us – but uranium threatens communities and country from the cradle to the grave, at home and overseas.
This is our responsibility and we take that responsibility seriously. We have to leave this poison where it is.” … “
The Greens have urged WA Environment minister Albert Jacobs to uphold the EPA’s advice to reject the controversial Yeelirrie uranium in the Goldfields of WA.
“The Yeelirrie uranium mine was first proposed in the 1970’s and has faced strong local and state wide community opposition for decades,” said Greens nuclear spokesperson Scott Ludlam.
“Today’s decision by the EPA should be the final nail in a proposal that should never have seen the light of day.
“The onus is now on Albert Jacobs to score a rare win for the WA environment and shut this proposal down once and for all.”
Senator Ludlam congratulated pastoralists, anti-nuclear campaigners and local Traditional Owners for their tireless work to oppose a project that would have been an environmental disaster.
Cameco’s Yeerrilie uranium mine proposal knocked back in WA Goldfields http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-03/uranium-mine-proposal-knocked-back-in-wa/7685538 Western Australia’s environmental watchdog has knocked back a proposed uranium mine in the state’s Goldfields, at the site of Australia’s largest uranium deposit.The Environmental Protection Agency said Cameco Australia’s Yeelirrie Uranium project could not meet one of the nine key environmental factors.
The Canadian company sought to mine up to 7,500 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate per year from the Yeelirrie deposit, about 420 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and 70km south-west of Wiluna.
The facility was to include two open pits, processing facilities, roads, accommodation, stockpile and laydown areas.
It would have transported the uranium oxide by road for export through the Port of Adelaide.
The authority’s chairman, Dr Tom Hatton, said the assessment process was extensive and involved public consultation and a site visit. He said the proposal would threaten more than 70 species of underground fauna, known as “stygofauna”.
The proposal had attracted protests, including from traditional owner Kado Muir, who argued there was no broad community support for uranium mining in Western Australia.
The EPA put the proposal up for public comment for 12 weeks, attracting 169 responses and a further 2,946 pro forma submissions.
The EPA gave a proposal for Western Australia’s first uranium mine the green light in 2012, the first to be approved since the lifting of a state ban on uranium mining in 2008. But the project, put forward by South Australian mining company Toro Energy, has stalled on the back of falling demand and global prices for the commodity.
The decision was based on the unacceptable risks the plan posed to subterranean fauna and also addresses wider environmental and community concerns.
“This is an important decision that prioritises the survival of a number of different species and the health and wellbeing of the local community,” said CCWA nuclear free campaigner Mia Pepper.
“CCWA’s submission to the EPA identified the likely extinction of several species of underground fauna, known as stygofauna and troglofauna if the proposal were approved and it is pleasing to see the EPA has considered that evidence.
“The EPA recommendation has been met with great relief among pastoralists, Aboriginal communities and environment groups who continue to campaign against uranium mining in WA. “The former proponent of the Yeelirrie uranium mine, BHP Billiton, conducted extensive and systematic surveys of subterranean fauna.
“This is an important decision that highlights the importance of extensive surveying for subterranean fauna and acting to prevent extinctions.”
National environment groups have joined their state counterparts in welcoming the EPA’s call.“We congratulate the EPA for making this important, clear and strongly evidence based recommendation,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Dave Sweeney.
“ACF expects and looks forward to the Environment Minister upholding the EPA’s recommendation.”
Walkatjurra Walkabout – Walking for Country https://walkingforcountry.com/walkatjurra-walkabout/walkatjurra-walkabout-about-us-2/
will be lead by the
Walkatjurra Rangers https://walkatjurra.com/rangers/
in partnership with
Footprints for Peace https://www.facebook.com/FootPrintsforPeace
Western Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (WANFA) https://nuclearfree.wordpress.com/
the Anti Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia (ANAWA) http://www.anawa.org.au/ and
the Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA) http://www.ccwa.org.au/
Wiluna to Leonora from August 7th – September 7th 2016
strength of the community who have fought to stop uranium mining at Yeelirrie for over forty years, and a chance to come together to continue share our commitment to a sustainable future without nuclear.
It is a chance to reconnect with the land, and to revive the tradition of walking for country.’
‘We invite all people, from all places, to come together to walk with us, to send a clear message
that we want the environment here, and our sacred places left alone.’ Kado Muir, Traditional Owner, Yeelirrie
Toro signs native title deal for Wiluna, Yahoo News Jarrod Lucas, Kalgoorlie – The West Australian on July 7, 2016 Uranium hopeful Toro Energy has signed a native title agreement with the traditional owners of its proposed Wiluna mine.
It comes as Toro waits on the Environmental Protection Authority’s verdict on Wiluna after a three-month public review process was completed in February.
Wiluna is one of three Goldfields uranium projects — alongside Vimy Resources’ Mulga Rock project and WA’s biggest deposit, the Cameco- owned Yeelirrie — which are awaiting EPA approval.
The agreement with the Tarlka Matuwa Piarku Aboriginal Corporation, the native title holding body of the Wiluna people, recognises opportunities for a range of business and employment initiatives.
Toro’s managing director Vanessa Guthrie said the agreement was reached after more than seven years of relationship building with the Wiluna people……….
In July 2013 the Federal Court determined their native claim over almost 48,000sqkm, including the Millipede, Centipede and Lake Way uranium deposits which Toro plans to mine. The Wiluna project also takes in the Lake Maitland deposit, where mining would begin six years into the 20-year project life.There is currently no native title claim over Lake Maitland, but Toro has been engaging with the Barwidgee people who claim an interest.
The Liberal Government overturned a ban on uranium mining in 2008, but WA has not produced a single pound of yellowcake, with prices depressed since the 2011 Japanese tsunami sent the Fukushima plant into multiple meltdowns.
Wiluna became the first mine in WA to win State Government environmental approvals in October 2012 and Toro added Federal approval six months later. But the $35 million acquisition of the Lake Maitland deposit from Mega Uranium in mid-2013 meant Toro went back to the drawing board to win further approvals to add new deposits to the mine plan.
The situation is now delicately poised with Toro, Vimy and Cameco striving to win environmental approval before next year’s State election.
WA Labor remains opposed to the mining and export of uranium, but shadow mines minister Bill Johnston says the party would not over-turn approvals if it wins next year’s State election……….https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/32003739/toro-signs-native-title-deal-for-wiluna/
Artist Anohni completes outback trek in fight with Martu people against WA uranium mine, ABC News, By Claire Moodie , 13 June 16 Oscar-nominated transgender musician Anohni has described the proponents of a uranium mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara as “desolate souls” after taking part in a protest march to the site of the proposed project.
Anohni, formerly known as Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons, made the comments after joining the Martu people on the 110 kilometre walk from the Parnngurr community to the site of Cameco’s Kintyre project, northeast of Newman. Continue reading