Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Transparency needed on UMC's bauxite plans for Kimberley

Wednesday, 16 May 2007 - Transparency needed on Mitchell Plateau mining plans

Australian Greens Senator for WA Rachel Siewert has reacted strongly to the announcement by United Minerals Corporation (UMC) that a massive bauxite mine is again on the cards for Mitchell Plateau. United Minerals say that for the last 12 months, UMC's 100% subsidiary Bauxite Australia Pty Limited, has been exploring in areas adjacent to the Mitchell Plateau bauxite deposits. A year 1 drilling program commencing in 2006 made a successful start in identifying extensive bauxite mineralisation on the Company's leases...
Perth exploration company United Minerals, which has discovered deposits of bauxite at its North Kimberley leases, has announced a joint venture with Norwegian company Norsk Hydro. UMC says it has reached a memorandum of understanding with aluminium producer Norsk Hydro to form a joint venture to assess a $4-5 billion bauxite mine and alumina refinery in the Kimberley region.

The proposed project would be based on bauxite deposits in the remote Mitchell Plateau, locted north west of Wyndham. UMC said the potential for an integrated bauxite mine and aluminium refinery was heavily driven by the expected development of gas projects in the Browse Basin, off the Kimberley coast. These projects include Woodside's Browse project and Japanese company Inpex's Ichthys project.

"The joint venture will endeavour to take advantage of this historic availability of major energy sources in the Kimberley for the first time," the company said.

A lobby group set to challenge gas development on the Kimberley coast says it is disturbed by new plans for a bauxite mine and alumina refinery.

Peter Tucker of the lobby group Cultural, Heritage and Environmental Advocacy for the Kimberley (CHEAK) says the announcement confirms what he has been fearing. "In their statement they have made it clear that the industrialisation of the Mitchell Plateau is going to be relying heavily on the availability of gas and this is of grave concern to us," he said.

Senator Siewert said the Greens suspected all along that WA Government support for the construction of large gas plants along the Kimberley coast had everything to do with opening the area up to mining interests. "This announcement confirms that the Kimberley is now firmly in the crosshairs of heavy industry," she said.

"My question is the degree to which the Carpenter Government is pushing these developments behind the scenes while leaving Kimberley people in the dark," Senator Siewert said.

"Will there be even the pretence of consultation, or is open slather mining in Australia's last frontier going to be presented as a fait accompli? The tragedy of the Burrup Peninsula illustrates what happens when the interests of heavy industry are driven over the cultural, social and environmental values of people living in the region."

"The Greens stand behind the Kimberley community in demanding an open and transparent say in the future of their region, within the framework of a regional planning policy, so that the mess on the Burrup is not replicated on a larger scale across the north of our state," said Senator Siewert.

WA Business News
Media Release

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