An appeal has been lodged against the Environmental Protection Authority's recommendation to approve the proposed Mulga Rock uranium mine in Western Australia's Goldfields region.
By
Laura Morelli

31 Aug 2016 - 3:04 PM  UPDATED 31 Aug 2016 - 3:08 PM
Seven sisters were out gathering bush food with their digging sticks when two hunters came upon them. The men were invited to eat with them and they could not help but notice the beauty of the sisters and immediately fell in love. The sisters realising that the men wanted more than food started to run away toward the bush. The men followed and today they can be seen chasing them through the night sky. The seven sisters are a constant reminder of the power of the spirits.
The Dreaming story of the Seven Sisters originated from Western Australia and is one of the most widely distributed ancient stories amongst Aboriginal peoples.

Anangu woman Libby Carmody says that if the proposed Mulga Rock uranium mine gets the green light, then there will be a complete breakup of land for traditional owners, in the original place where the Seven Sisters story was created.

“They continue to break up our land; they continue to break up our song lines and our cultural being.”

An appeal has been lodged against the Environmental Protection Authority's recommendation to approve the proposed Mulga Rock uranium mine in Western Australia's Goldfields region.

The appeal was lodged by the Conservation Council of WA, the Australian Conservation Foundation, The Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth Australia and the Anti-Nuclear Alliance of WA. The grounds for appeal include environmental factors for flora and fauna, mine closure, tailings management and impacts to water.

Ms Carmody says the land sits in a very important cultural area.

“We have close family members who walked through that land before they had contact with white fellas, the area is used for stories my father used to tell me, about giant black boy trees - that makes the area what it is,” she said.

“The land is still used today for hunting and even now, we take food from that land and the animals rely heavily on it for drinking water.”

Vimy Resources Limited proposes transporting uranium oxide concentrate from its Mulga Rock project, about 240km northeast of Kalgoorlie, by road to Port Adelaide in sealed steel drums within a secure shipping container.

CCWA campaigner, Mia Pepper, says traditional land owners approached her and others in support for their fight against the Mulga rock.

“A lot of people who put in an appeal have a direct connection to that country, and want to see their land stay protected,” she said.

“I think the greatest impact so far is that the company has said there won’t be any impact thus they don’t need to consult with traditional land owners… but that’s not their call to make.”

Ms Carmody says the company has not consulted with any Aboriginal peoples at all.

“There are people of today that are strongly linked to that area, but no one has bothered to speak to them.”

Mia Pepper says the proposed mine sits in the Yellow Sand Plain Priority Community, which supports rare and endangered species.

"If this mine were to proceed it would take 15 million litres of water a day from the environment and clear over 3000 hectares of native bushland and important habitat for 93 reptile species, 28 bird species and 10 mammal/marsupial species," she said.

“The uranium market is depressed and the lack of detail in Vimy resources application is depressing."

Following the EPA's recommendation with 14 conditions, including having environmental and Aboriginal heritage management plans in place, it is now up to state and federal environment ministers to decide if the project will go ahead.

"This uranium mine would leave behind a legacy of 30 million tonnes of radioactive tailings and mine waste that would pose a threat to the environment for thousands of years," Pepper said.

Earlier this month, the EPA rejected Cameco's plan to mine uranium at its Yeelirrie project, 70km southeast of Wiluna, because the project posed unacceptable risks to subterranean fauna.

ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney says the EPA approval recommendation is a long way from an operating mine.

“The minister and the Barnett Government promised a ‘World’s best practice’ uranium industry but this proposal is a very long way from that. The company has overstated its ability to manage the risks without providing the science to support their claims,” he said.

“The uranium market is depressed and the lack of detail in Vimy resources application is depressing. This plan is deficient, this product is dangerous and the government needs to make a decision based on evidence, not enthusiasm. The EPA recommendation was made without all the necessary information and puts a unique and pristine desert ecosystem at serious risk.”

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