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The Campaign - Impact


Disposal of Bitterns

There is no information presented in Straits Resources ERMP concerning the amount of bitterns which will be generated by the proposed mine. Projected mine production levels are to a massive output of 10 Megatonnes of salt per annnum (Mtpa).

However, earlier information provided by the company stated that at 3 Mtpa, in the order of 6 gigalitres of bitterns per annum will be generated. 6 gigalitres equates to a mind boggling 6 billion litres of bitterns for every year of production.

Extrapolating to the 10Mtpa production levels, this will mean in the order of 20 billion litres of highly toxic bitterns every year!!

That this is an immense volume is testified to by the same data presented by Straits being accompanied by the assessment that such a volume represents a full 1/5000 of all the sea water in the Gulf. Again extrapolating to 10Mtpa, this would equate to a truly extraordinary 3/5000 of Gulf seawater volume!!!

Straits ERMP makes numerous references to 'good intentions' as to what it plans to do with its toxic bitterns. However, nowhere does it make a commitment that, at last resort and all efforts having been made to the contrary, and all options for recovery or disposal of residual chemicals failing, that it won't be seeking permissions to discharge poisonous bitterns chemicals into the Gulf.

In fact, Straits ERMP does state that a separate referral to the Environmental Protection Authority would also be made for the disposal of any (of the 20 billion litres per year) bitterns not able to be practically re-used or contained (emphasis and brackets clause added).

Bitterns and What is in Them

Each tonne of salt produced leaves approximately 1.5 cubic metres of bittern. About a third is lost to seepage and through other processes.

For each thousand tonnes of salt produced the bitterns typically hold the following chemicals:


Simplest Formula*


Sodium chloride


150 tonnes

Magnesium chloride


120 tonnes

Magnesium sulphate


70 tonnes

Potassium chloride


24 tonnes



2 tonnes

* some complex salts are formed

A rough flow chart of the processes that could be used to process these chemicals is illustrated below

From a website submission to the EPA:

Q: What's a bittern Dad?
A: It's the taste in your mouth you get when The System rolls over and rubber stamps Big Business."


The Residents

World Heritage






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