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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Keep McArthur wild, free and clean - 2

Miss Eagle, you may recall dear Reader, posted back in March about X-Strata's proposal to divert the McArthur River and to mine its creek bed. They were knocked back by the NT Government then but have now come back with a revised - but basically the same - plan. Here are some links to explore on the subject:
Miss Eagle has to-day written to the Hon Kon Vatskalis at ''. It is interesting to note that Kon Vatskalis is not only the Minister for Mines and Energy but also holds the portfolio of Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries. Please remember this, dear Reader, as you read the letter your Miss Eagle sent to the Minister. Of course, one has to ask if these portfolios can co-exist together without conflict of interest. Perhaps the NT Government could address this question. The Minister himself could prove this by giving a decision that takes into account the important fisheries of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Dear Minister,

I am a former resident of McArthur River Station and a former electorate officer to Maggie Hickey who was formerly Member for Barkly and Leader of the Opposition.

I lived on McArthur River Station when the McArthur River Mine was just a pilot project. I worked for Maggie when all the negotiations were going on to develop the mine – particularly discussions with traditional owners and the people of Borroloola. The McArthur River itself has played a major role in my life and since 1977 I have always kept a personal watching brief on what has happened to it and to the mine because I have always recognised the capacity of the mine to interfere in the life of the river. Now interference is proposed in a drastic and dramatic fashion.

I am horrified by the plans of X-Strata to divert the river and mine the river bed. I ask you, Minister, to use your best efforts to thwart X-Strata’s plans and prevent this development. There is a more precious resource at stake than the mineral deposits of the McArthur River creek bed. There is the environmental and recreational and economic resource of such a river in pristine condition and its contribution to the Gulf of Carpentaria.

As you are well aware, arguably the best barramundi fishing in Australia is off Borroloola. By extrapolation, it is arguably the best barra fishing in the world. This is an environmental, recreational, and economic resource which we have to guard and develop for the future. The major risk factor to the protection and development of such a resource is mining and the outfall from its development and processes.

My view is that diversion of the river would be an environmental disaster to an otherwise pristine river. To add to this environmental rape, the mining process will mean further environmental damage with the distinct possibility of impact over a wide area. Particularly problematic are heavy climatic conditions during The Wet.

X-Strata can neither predict future events and outcomes with 100% accuracy nor is it able to control for all foreseeable contingencies, let alone the unforeseen ones.

Minister, please act to prevent X-Strata’s plans and to preserve the McArthur River for its traditional owners and custodians, for the people of the Borroloola and Barkly Regions, and as part of the heritage of Territorians and all Australians.