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Newsletter #18 - 17 February 2010 ... more ...


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Cyclone Poncho and science blows the salt mine credibility away ... more ...

EPA publishes opinion on large-scale salt mine in the pristine Exmouth Gulf. EPA media summary. Full Report (1.8Mb pdf)


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As of 16 February 2010 the content on this website was ‘frozen’ but has been left online for reference purposes.
Public submissions have been disabled.


The Western Australian Government’s environmental watchdog has confirmed that plans to develop a solar salt project on the eastern side of Exmouth Gulf have been withdrawn by the proponent.

In a statement to the Halt the Salt Alliance, the Environmental Protection Authority has confirmed “…that the assessment of this proposal has now been terminated.”

This is a fantastic result for the environment and for the thousands of people who helped us campaign for the past four years against this project.

Commonsense has finally prevailed on an ill-conceived proposal that was not supported by scientific experts who had repeatedly warned of the irreversible damage that it could cause to the ecosystem and marine life.

This proposal was always in the wrong location. The eastern Gulf is a pristine area that should be protected for future generations.

Whatever reason the proponent gives for withdrawing its application, the overwhelming view of the community has prevailed.

We now look to the State Government to remove the Ministerial provision currently in place reserving this area for salt production and provide permanent protection for the Yannarie Delta from mining and resource development.

The same proponent may now prepare a new application for a similar project but focussing on an existing developed area further north, possibly near Onslow.

The Alliance will maintain a watching brief on the proponent’s intentions as well as holding discussions with our member groups to determine the community’s future wishes for this area.

Please refer to our latest newsletter (link) for additional information.

As of 16 February 2010 the content on this website was ‘frozen’ but has been left online for reference purposes. Public submissions have been disabled.

Exmouth Gulf - one of Western Australia's most environmentally important areas - is under potential threat from a plan to build one of the world's biggest salt mines.

Exmouth Gulf is one of the richest marine environments in Australia. It is a nursery for humpback whales, dugong and turtles. The mangrove systems on the eastern margins are areas of high primary productivity feeding and restocking both the Gulf and the famed nearby Ningaloo Reef.

Its World Heritage values have already been identified. It must be protected.

The proposed salt mine as per Straits original proposal would cover 411 square kilometres - more than 70 kilometres long, equivalent to the area from Rockingham to Quinns Rock, and inland ten kilometres from the coast. Straits has since amended its proposal to an initial first stage.

On its website, the company describes a "modified proposal", but in fact it is simply a re-statement of the first stage of its project.

From the outset, in its Environmental Review Management Plan (ERMP), Straits stated that it was "planning to develop a 10 million tonne per annum (Mtpa)" operation "with start-up capacity of 2.5 to 3 Mtpa".

The ERMP remains the base documentation that the EPA is evaluating. Straits' intention to ramp up the project to 10Mtpa was also re-stated by the company at a stakeholder reference group meeting held in June 2007.

The Halt The Salt campaign believes the risks associated with this massive project are too great and the project must be abandoned.

Widespread and deep concern among many organisations has led the State's peak conservation groups to join forces for the first time with peak commercial and recreational fishing interests in the Gulf to stop the project.

Straits Resources has had to acknowledge in its own documentation the environmental concerns associated with its proposed salt mine:

  • Potential loss of mangroves and associated biota such as algal mats in an area of recognised significance for these systems.
  • Potential shipping and salt production impact on marine fauna such as whales and dugongs and their supporting habitats.
  • Potential impact on marine and terrestrial nutrient inputs introduced by the presence of the salt field and the significance of this to the Gulf’s wider ecosystem.
  • Development in an area recommended to be set aside as a marine conservation reserve.

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