Since time immemorial, the Helena Aurora Range has been part of the country of the Kalamaia Kapurn people who call it Bungalbin. Helena and Aurora Range is considered to have the highest conservation value among the Banded Iron Formation (BIF) ranges in the central Yilgarn; it is pristine and yet is under imminent threat from mining interests. For these reasons, Helena and Aurora Range is the immediate focus and the most appropriate BIF range to be recommended for Class A, National Park status.
After decades of soundly-based recommendations for the full and secure protection of the Helena Aurora Range (Bungalbin); and in light of the opportunity for joint management of the area with its Traditional Owners; and in response to the threat of destruction of much of the range, the time has come for the WA government to act responsibly and protect this exceptional feature of our environment. With so many of WA’s other outstanding ‘banded ironstone’ ranges destroyed or in the process of being destroyed, it’s time to right the balance and protect this exceptional example for future generations.
It features special, ancient geology & landscapes:
- The range is called a “Banded Iron Formation” or BIF range.
- Banded iron is iron-rich chert (and chert is mainly silica).
- It’s the tallest range in the Coolgardie Bioregion – Bungalbin Hill is 690m.
- The geology of the range is about 2.6 billion years old.
The range is home to many rare, endemic and threatened species:
- 5 Endemic flora species
- 2 Declared rare flora
- 14 Priority species
- 3 Threatened fauna species
- 10 BIF-dependent flora species
- 1 Priority one ecological community
- ~350 Native plant species in total
- ~113 Native fauna species
It has long been recommended for protection:
- Over several decades there have been repeated recommendations from scientists, government agencies and conservation organisations for the full protection of the Helena and Aurora Range (Bungalbin).
- First proposed for protection by WA Museum scientists in 1979-80;
- Recommended for protection by CALM in 1994;
- In December 2005, Helena and Aurora Range was formally included within the Mt Manning Reserve;
- Vested as “Conservation Park – Other than Class A” (Reserve no. 48470);
- This lesser category of reserve was adopted by government to allow for mining as a future land use
On the 15th October 2013, The Wilderness Society in collaboration with the Helena Aurora Range Advocates (HARA) the The Wildflower Society of WA launched a National Park proposal for the Helena and Aurora Range (launched by renowned WA nature photographer Simon Nevill). The proposal has the support from Traditional Owners of the area and goes into great depth of why this area should be upgraded from a Conservation Park (that allows mining) to the secure protection status of a National Park. You can download a copy here. The proposal for protection follows decades of similar recommendations from scientists and even the Environmental Protection Authority:
EPA Recommendation 2007: “Reserve [the] range as an ‘A Class’ Nature Reserve for protection of high concentrations of endemic rare flora and priority ecological communities; exceptional landforms; threatened fauna habitats; mature eucalypt woodlands that are declining in the Wheatbelt; and Aboriginal heritage.”
Why is it under threat?
Several BIF ranges in and around the Great Western Woodlands are already in the process of being destroyed by mining companies, like the beautiful Windarling Range, and many more are in the industry’s firing line. The next target in their sights is the Helena and Aurora Range, with it's extremely rich and high grade iron-ore that the Range's ecosystem is dependent on. Despite longstanding calls for the protection of the range, Polaris Metals Ltd is moving closer to seeking approval to begin mining the Range (having expressed that they plan to submit their reports to the EPA by the end of the year). The quantity of shippable iron-ore that could be produced in the entire life of a mine at at Range is less than a week's worth in the Pilbara. Mining this Range is for pure greed and not in the public interest. The damage from mining would be irreversible to this delicate, ancient and unique ecological community, considered be many as one of WA's most significant biodiversity assets.
There are many ways you can help protect this spectacular natural icon.
1) Write a letter. Since coming to office in 2008, the Barnett government has been handing huge sections of Western Australia over to the mining industry and heavily subsidising their operations. We must increase public pressure on the Environmental Protection Authority to reject Polaris Metal Ltd's mining proposal, or at least demand it be assessed at the highest level (Public Environmental Review - PER). We must also put pressure on the Environment Minister who has the power to direct the EPA to assess the proposal at a PER level. We cannot let the EPA rubber stamp this proposal and destroy one of the last BIF ranges in WA, one of our most ancient landscapes and an area that the previous EPA recommended be gazetted as a National Park. You can help by writing a letter today to the EPA and Environment Minister, letting them know that you think this area should be gazetted as a National Park and is no place for mining. This simple task can have a big impact - and the more letters, the bigger the impact! Download one of our letter writing kits and a fact sheet for guidance.
2) Visit the range. If you want to be even more inspired, why not head out and visit the range! We run regular camping trips with guided hikes. Or why not contact one of our staff members who can give you more information about getting out there yourself. Everyone who has ever been to the Range has come back inspired to ensure it's secure protection.
3) Spread the word! The more people that know about this ancient & unique place the better. We hope to grow a movement of inspired and connected citizens, both local and from far and wide, who are moved to take action to protect the Helena and Aurora Range.
4) Contact us. Why not get in touch with your local WA Campaign Office and find out more information, ways to get involved or discuss your own ideas about how we can protect this jewel in the Great Western Woodlands.
5. Helena Aurora Range Advocates website - a very useful source of information.