Decision on salt mine imminent
As you read this newsletter, the decision of the Western Australian Government is imminent on the proposal to build a massive salt mine in the pristine Eastern Exmouth Gulf area.
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has already told the Government not to allow the project to proceed under any conditions. We expect final advice from the Appeals Convener to be provided to the Environment Minister within the next week.
The Minister will then consult her colleagues before making a final decision. She could uphold the original rejection by the EPA of the proposal or send the matter back to the EPA for further advice.
We are working strongly behind the scenes to ensure all Government MPs are aware of the major environmental, social and economic ramifications of this decision.
Briefings are being provided to MPs explaining the environmental risks and the costs to existing sustainable industries and jobs in the region, as well as the future status of the region as an eco- tourism destination.
Major threat to Exmouth prawning industry and regional employment
The proposed salt mine represents a major threat to the prawning industry that has existed in the area for the past 40 years. More than 100 existing jobs in Exmouth could be lost if the primary nursery area for this fishery is damaged.
The family-owned MG Kailis Group pioneered prawn fishery in Exmouth Gulf in 1964. A major regional employer, the company has more than 100 staff in prawning and fishing operations.
Future plans for the business include an expansion of fresh seafood processing and retail operations and the establishment of Exmouth as Australia`s premium seafood region and tourist destination.
Exmouth Gulf is likely to deliver another bumper catch of prawns this year with strong recruitment coming from the Eastern Gulf. But Fisheries Department experts are warning of an immediate impact and long-term decline in the fishery if the salt project goes ahead.
Growing tourism and employment opportunities in Exmouth are under threat from this non-sustainable salt mine proposed in a highly sensitive and pristine area.
We cannot let this occur at the expense of a long-term local employer operating a sustainable industry that is compatible with the marine environment.
Straits to sell Yanarrie Solar Salt Project to a foreign-owned company
At the 11th hour Straits Resources Pty Ltd is now planning to sell the Yanarrie Solar Salt Project to a foreign-owned company with no public explanation of how this may impact on the environment or previous promises of future employment.
On March 23rd Straits announced the proposed sale to a Thailand-based energy company, the PTT Group. Straits shareholders are due to vote on the proposal on April 20th.
But many important questions are not being answered at a critical time in the Government’s assessment process.
- What commitments will the new owners provide to the Government and the community?
- What are the conditions of sale by Straits? Will the salt mine be sold as a going concern?
- What has the new owner been told in terms of the approval process still before government and the expert scientific advice warning against it?
- What commitments will the new foreign company give to the government and the community in relation to protecting the environment, jobs etc?
- What does the government think of this change in ownership at such a late stage in the approvals process?
The case against is overwhelming
The EPA and many reputable scientists have made it absolutely clear they believe this proposal is environmentally unacceptable. The Project puts more jobs at risk than it creates and a proposed change of ownership will transfer control to an overseas-based company.
The potential loss of Exmouth as an iconic, premium Western Australian seafood region is now a critical concern. The Project has failed the community benefit test with big environmental risks for few jobs.
And, most importantly, it is not supported by the local community, 69 local businesses signed a petition against the project which was presented to the Premier in January 2009.
We will keep you informed of further developments as they occur. We urge you to find out more about the environmental impacts of the proposed project by visiting www.haltthesalt.org.au and help us protect this area for current and future generations to enjoy.
If you have not already made a submission, please click here.