Updated: February 12, 2012
Rio’s EIS fails again to protect Australia’s newly discovered species
The Wilderness Society (Qld) Inc.
13 February 2012
Rio Tinto’s Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its massive “South of Embley” bauxite mining expansion on Cape York’s west coast has failed to address the shortcomings of its original EIS and protect newly discovered species and the outstanding natural values of the region.
The new mine drew national media attention in September last year when a new freshwater crab species (Austrothelphusa sp.) was discovered within the proposed mine site at Winda Winda Creek.
“The task of the Supplementary EIS is to ameliorate unacceptable impacts of the mine on newly discovered species and their world class habitat, and it has failed to do so,” said Wilderness Society Northern Australia Campaigner Gavan McFadzean. “Therefore the Wilderness Society maintains its position that federal Environment Minister Tony Burke reject the proposal.”
“With its Supplementary EIS, Rio has barely tinkered at the edges. If anything the overall footprint of the mine will now be bigger, due to larger dredging required for barges in the Hey River and the construction of a temporary port facility at Boyd Point. The company also plans to mine faster than originally stated, increasing annual production by 50%, up from 15 to 22.5 million tonnes, greatly accelerating the destruction.
“Despite the posturing about a more environmentally friendly mine, Rio will still destroy 30000 hectares of land, build a huge port on a pristine coastline and dredge the marine environment, and still dam and destroy the pristine Norman Creek.”
“This is in a region which the federal and state governments are currently assessing for World Heritage.”
“The crab is just one of many environmental concerns. Rio is clearly trying to win public support by appearing to address concerns about the crab, but it has failed to do even that. If Rio is serious about protecting the crab, they should exclude the Winda Winda Creek catchment from mining.”
“Rio argues they will have larger buffer zones around the Winda Winda Creek than the small buffers required by government, but it does not provide any detail on its proposed buffer zones. Instead Rio Tinto simply claims the size will be determined after it gets approval and more studies are conducted. “Trust us” is not a credible position for Rio to take.”
“Rio Tinto can get away with being so vague with its protection measures for the crab because of a flaw in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) Act that doesn’t allow for newly found species to be protected at this stage of the approval process. That means Minister Burke and the general public have no legal means to force Rio to protect the crab.”
Further comment contact:
Gavan McFadzean: 0414 754 023
Glenn Walker: 0417 645 927
For more information, please contact:
The Wilderness Society Qld Inc - Brisbane
67 Boundary Street (upstairs)
West End, QLD, 4101
Phone: 07 3846 1420