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Who We Are
The EDO is a non-profit, non-government Community Legal Centre specialising in public interest environmental law. Our services include:
- providing community groups and individuals with free legal advice and representation on environmental issues,
- promoting environmental law reform, and
- undertaking community legal education.
"Empowering the community to protect the environment through law".
Protection of WA's environment by providing individuals and community groups with environmental legal services including advice, education, representation and opportunity to participate in reform of laws affecting the environment.
Iron Ore Proposal Rejected
EDOWA is extremely pleased with the WA Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) 26 Nov. 2014 decision to recommend rejection of Polaris Metals’ J5 and Bungalbin East Iron Ore Project (comprising 2 large, open-cut iron ore mines and associated infrastructure, proposed in banded iron formations within the Helena and Aurora Ranges Conservation Park, 100km north of Southern Cross) on grounds the proposal is “environmentally unacceptable”. EPA’s decision is available here: http://www.epa.wa.gov.au/NEWS/MEDIASTMNTSCHRMN/Pages/1December2014.aspx?pageID=440&url=NEWS/MEDIASTMNTSCHRMN.
As EDOWA members and supporters know, we’ve been representing three conservation groups who lodged objections to elements of the proposal in the Mining Warden’s Court back in May 2014. With Polaris’ concurrence, the Mining Warden adjourned proceedings on those objections until September 2015, in order to allow the WA EPA assessment process to run its course before addressing the groups’ objections under the Mining Act 1978. Polaris originally indicated it intended to contest whether the Warden had jurisdiction to hear the groups’ objections but, after EDOWA filed lengthy submissions demonstrating that the objections raised well-recognised public interest grounds, the company changed its mind and advised that it did not contest the Warden’s jurisdiction.
The EPA’s 26 Nov. 2014 decision follows close on the heels of its decision earlier in the month (Report 1532) that a similar iron mining proposal in the banded iron formations of Mt Karara, central Blue Hills, and Mungada Ridge of WA’s Midwest should likewise be rejected as environmentally unacceptable. That decision is available here: http://edit.epa.wa.gov.au/EPADocLib/Rep%201532%20Blue%20Hills%20APIB%20101114.pdf.
EPA’s decisions regarding both iron mining proposals acknowledge the critical importance of protecting banded iron formations from the effects of mining. These formations act as refugia for many endangered and endemic species of flora and fauna and are biodiversity hotspots, as well as unique landforms. In recognition of this, the State government has proposed protecting these critically important areas from mining and other development for the past 40 years but never implemented that protection.
In November, EDOWA assisted the groups in asking the Minister for Mines, Bill Marmion, to exercise his powers under the Mining Act to summarily terminate Polaris Metals’ pending mineral tenement applications and to declare the areas exempt from future applications or mining. No decision has been issued to date. Hopefully, with the EPA’s recent decisions, Minister Marmion will find it considerably easier to take the action sought by the groups.
(1 December 2014)
Proposed Mining Rejected
In the October 2014 edition of EDOnews, we discussed efforts to protect the unique landforms and biodiversity of Western Australia’s banded iron formations in the Midwest and Goldfields regions of the State. The State government has proposed protecting these critically important areas from mining and other development for the past 40 years (largely without success). EDOWA is currently representing groups in the Mining Warden’s Court who are pressing their objections to Polaris Metals’ proposed iron mining in banded iron formations near Mt Manning (in the Helena and Aurora Range Conservation Park). Polaris’ proposed mine is also awaiting an assessment decision by the EPA.
Among other things, EDOWA has assisted the groups in asking the Minister for Mines and Petroleum, Hon. William Marmion, to exercise his powers under ss 19 and 111A of the Mining Act 1978 to refuse the mining applications and exempt portions of the area from mining in the future. Minister Marmion has yet to act on the groups’ request.
However, some very welcome news was received today when the WA Environmental Protection Authority issued Report 1532 – recommending rejection of Sinosteel Midwest Corporation Limited’s “Blue Hills Mungada East Expansion” because “it cannot be managed to meet the EPA’s objective for Landforms and the proposal is environmentally unacceptable and should not be implemented” (EPA Report 1532, p 10 (Nov. 2014). Sinosteel’s proposed Mungada East mine is located in the banded iron formations of Mt Karara, central Blue Hills, and Mungada Ridge of WA’s Midwest. These formations are very similar to the formations in the Helena and Aurora Range that EDOWA is fighting to protect. The EPA’s rejection of Sinosteel’s proposal hopefully foreshadows the agency’s decision on Polaris Metals’ proposal in the Helena and Aurora Range Conservation Park and ought to provide further justification for Minister Marmion to use his powers to protect the Park’s formations even before EPA releases its decision on Polaris Metals’ tenement applications.
Stay tuned to EDOWA’s website and Facebook page for updates or call us (9221 3030) if you’d like to find out more or want to get involved.
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The EDO provides information factsheets over to members of the community in public interest environmental law matters.