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Mineral extraction and erosion problems ter the tarkine, Save the Tarkine

Mineral extraction and erosion problems in the tarkine, Save the Tarkine

Mineral exploration and mining is emerging spil the greatest threat to the protection of the Tarkine. The Tarkine is facing a fresh threat from mining with fresh mines proposed for development overheen the next 3-5 years. Early successes te this campaign have seen off mine proposals at Keith Sea, Riley Creek and Nelson Bay Sea, but Venture Minerals are intending to press ahead with their proposed tin mine te the rainforest at Climb on Lindsay.

Added to this is the massive rente ter mineral exploration te the Tarkine rising from the China metals boom. There are presently 38 exploration licenses granted overheen the Tarkine. Exploration activities such spil drilling, geophysical surveys and pit tests have a substantial influence on the Tarkine through clearing, roading and introduction of contaminants.

The TNC has significant concerns thesis impacts, and have called on the Environment Minister Tony Burke to instantly apply a National Heritage Listing to the Tarkine.

Whilst the old pioneers and old mining sites have bot a significant part of the fabric of Tasmania’s westelijk coast, mining has have a significant environmental influence – especially if it occurs te remote and untouched regions. Mining can have a significant ruinous environmental influence not just at the mine webpagina, but it also has the potential to lead to serious downstream impacts due to mineral runoff and impacts on sea systems. The runoff from the old Mt Bischoff tin mine, for example, still contaminates the upper 30 km of the Arthur Sea, causing a virtual Dead Zone (Mercury 2003) due to the high levels of toxic metals that leach into the sea system. The runoff from the Savage Sea Mine has also had a significant influence on the Savage Sea system since it wasgoed commenced several decades ago, tho’ latest owners have invested te limited clean-up operations. At Luina, the acid mine leachate from tin mining has resulted ter an acidic, orange sulphurous discharge that is poisoning the Whyte Sea.

The environmental problems that can be associated with mineral exploration include, enhanced fire risk, local disturbance to native vegetation, rubbish left behind, and disease, which can be transported via equipment and personnel. (PLUC 1997c) Mineral exploration can also lead to contamination of watercourses through spills, and impacts on ground water.

Early stages of mineral exploration, including aerial reconnaissance, surveys and mapping and stream sampling, cause little environmental disturbance. However, the straks stages of exploration, which involve cutting of grid lines, and drilling at certain sites, involves the clearing and disturbance of vegetation and the construction of access tracks for drilling equipment (PWS 2001). Te the Tarkine ter particular, myrtle wilt is another kwestie that arises with mineral exploration, with the disturbance associated with mineral exploration having the potential to exacerbate myrtle wilt disease.

Erosion can be a major problem at drill sites, with tracks established for mineral exploration having the potential to become eroded, and the drill sites involving the unwrapping of vegetation and the removal of topsoil. Because Western Tasmania has such a high rainfall, thesis sites have the potential to actively erode. (PWS 2001) Drilling water and additives used at drill sites have the potential to cause erosion and possible contamination of any adjacent watercourses. Ter Tasmania, it is not uncommon for drill fuckholes to intersect ground water under pressure, which will flow water onto the ground surface. Such flows may cause local long-term erosion. Some more intensive activities such spil trenching and closely spaced drilling, track construction and line clearing, if carried out near rivers or rivulets, have the potential to significantly disturb sea environments. (Environment Australia 1998). Some 58 exploration licences have bot granted overheen the Tarkine, by 27 different companies.

Mining has a ruinous influence on a restricted area, the size of which depends on whether the mine is open cut or underground. However, mining can be expected to have off-site impacts spil well, which can often be more significant than the mine webpagina itself.

There is a well-documented history ter Australia of past mining activities having caused significant ecological harm, which persists te some rivers and flows, particularly where the sea or sea valley has bot dredged or tailings have bot discharged. The potential still exists for operating mines to result ter water pollution, which even at low concentrations can exert chronic effects. Such effects include failure of organisms to reproduce (Lake 1992).

Whilst mining and on-site mineral processing operations are usually limited to relatively puny areas, waterborne and airborne emissions have the potential to affect environments distant to the operation. The emissions which occur during the operating life of the mine, have the potential to proceed to affect the environment long after mine closure, e.g. contamination from the Mt Bischoff tin mine (Waratah) proceeds to have significant influence on the upper reaches of the Arthur Sea, several decades after closure of the mine itself.

Waste rock is one of the major contributors to mining harm through visual harm to the landscape, but also through contribution to acid mine ontwatering. The way that waste materials are disposed of during a mining operation can therefore have a significant influence on the environmental impacts of the mine. Waste rock can contribute to acid mine ontwatering during the operational life of the mine and also after closure of the mine. Rock has the capability to produce Acid Mine Ontwatering (AMD) if it contains sulphides. Siltation and acid-mine ontwatering have major impacts on water quality, due to erosion of exposed surfaces, the flow of pumped mine water, and through natural rain water movement through stockpiles and mine workings. AMD has bot the subject of much research and detailed investigation (TCM, 1992, Minerals Council of Australia, 1995), and it remains one of the major environmental issues associated with mines which operate te geological conditions which generate acid water. This includes most of the major Westelijk coast mines te Tasmania. Open-cut mines, including quarries, will always have a high influence on landforms, flora and fauna.

Acid mine ontwatering into the Whyte Sea at Luina has created a 6km “dead zone”.

There are a number of vegetation types that careful attention needs to be paid to te terms of the impacts of mining and mineral exploration on Tasmanias Westelijk coast. Thesis include, Epacris glabella and Micrantheum serpentinum. Thesis species are associated with the occurrence of serpentinite and endemic to the Westelijk coast, suggesting that they are vulnerable to ongezouten disturbance associated with mineral exploration on this particular geological substrate (Askey-Doran et hoewel 1992).

What about existing mining?

Presently limited mining occurs within the Tarkine, at Savage Sea Metal Ore Mine, which is presently managed by Grange Resources, and the Corinna Silica Mine managed by Tasmanian Advanced Minerals. The declaration of a Tarkine National Park will have NO influence on thesis current mining operations, spil current leases are cut out of the Park proposal.

Outside the Tarkine on the westelijk coast of Tasmania there is the Hellyer Mine (Bass Metals) and Rosebery Mine (MMG), Henty Mine (Unity Mining), Renison (Bluestone), Avebury (MMG), and Mt Lyell (Vedanta). None of thesis mines would be affected by a Tarkine National Park.

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