Activists see off mine threat

Daryna ZadvirnaAlbany Advertiser
Lake Jasper wetlands.
Camera IconLake Jasper wetlands. Credit: Geoff Evans

A Denmark community group’s environmental activism contributed to a State Government decision to suspend mining lease applications on the Scott Coastal Plain.

The Environmental Protection Authority commended Denmark Environment Centre for its study raising concerns about high-risk mining in the region.

Last year, Denmark Environment Centre’s Geoff Evans wrote a strategic assessment along with D’Entrecasteaux Coalition’s Andy Russell, highlighting problems posed by acid sulphate soils along the south-west coastal area.

The document was submitted to the EPA in June, and was recently commended in the community spotlight section of EPA’s latest annual report.

A Denmark Environment Centre meeting at Lake Jasper.
Camera IconA Denmark Environment Centre meeting at Lake Jasper. Credit: Albany Advertiser, Geoff Evans

“We commend the Denmark Environment Centre for their time and hard work in raising this important issue with government and for the information contained in their strategic assessment," the report stated.

“The EPA also notes the high risk of acid sulfate soil levels in the area, and the potential impact that development could have on water quality in coastal floodplains, wetlands, rivers and creeks."

The EPA said it was aware of the mining activity impact on the region, the risk of acid leachate and environmental damage to an important biodiverse region.

According to Mr Russell, the mining issues in the region started about 40 years ago.

“BHP had a big mine there in the 80s but it created a lot of environmental problems... The project only ran for two years because the acid ate up all their equipment so they had to pack up,” he said.

Lake Jasper.
Camera IconLake Jasper. Credit: Geoff Evans

Mr Russell said the government of the day had promised to restore the area’s national park status in 1994 but backtracked in 2010.

“Last year we found out that the Government begun plans for mining again,” he said.

“There were around 12 or 13 mining leases pending on the Scott Coastal Plain, so we thought we better be more strategic and that’s when we wrote the document.”

The pair had also written to Premier Mark McGowan, who in a written response in February said his intention was to reinstate the area into D’Entrecasteaux National Park. The Premier said he was aware of the environmental and cultural sensitivities of the Gingilup-Jasper wetland system.

“The processing of the mining lease applications has been suspended while a greater understanding of the issues is obtained,” Mr McGowan said.

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