Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rookie coal miner threatens Kimberley’s iconic waterways

·         Project EIS released today for 8 weeks public comment

·         Coal mine proposal threatens Fitzroy River and King Sound National Heritage Sites

·         Monster road trains would create transport nightmares on highway

·         Australia’s most spectacular region too precious to risk on coal mines

Rookie miner Rey Resources’ proposed coal mine and port threatens to damage two of the Kimberley’s most important National Heritage sites, the Fitzroy River (Mardoowarra) and King Sound (Moorrool Moorrool).

Rey proposes to build a coal mine near the mighty Fitzroy River and a coal export facility in the stunning King Sound near Derby.

Carrying the coal from the proposed mine to port would be a road transport nightmare, with 50-80 monster road trains every day trying to navigate a 175km stretch of the flood-prone Great Northern Highway, a popular tourist route and the lifeline for local communities in the Fitzroy valley.

The heavy monsoon rains of the Kimberley make the proposed mine a potential disaster, with a high risk of toxic heavy metals and acid mine drainage leaching into the groundwater and the unspoiled Fitzroy River.

Coal mines have been banned in some parts of Western Australia, such as Margaret River, because of risks to groundwater. The Environment Protection Authority should do likewise with this proposal.

As with Margaret River, coal mining would be a lasting blight on the Kimberley’s international status as a unique and extraordinary destination.

Transport of coal, dust management and the release of heavy metals and coal dust all pose a significant threat to remote communities, the residents of Derby and visitors to the region.

Northern Australia’s healthy rivers are critical for wildlife to survive in the harsh and often extreme climate. The “Mighty Fitzroy” River is the lifeblood of the Kimberley, sustaining one of the most diverse and intact areas left on the planet.

The River and King Sound are home to threatened species including 18 species of native fish found nowhere else, 15 species of mangroves, rare snubfin dolphins, the critically endangered sawfish, freshwater whipray and the threatened purple-crowned fairy wren.

The river flows over 600km through striking boab country with lush seasonal wetlands which link billabongs and freshwater springs and through stunning gorges.

The Fitzroy River, or Mardoowarra (meaning ‘living river’ in Nyikina language), plays a pivotal role in the culture of the Kimberley’s Indigenous people.

For further comment contact:
Wilderness Society Western Australia Campaign Manager Peter Robertson on 0409 089 020

For more information, contact Wilderness Society media adviser Alex Tibbitts on 0416 420 168

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