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MEDIA statement

Wednesday, 23 July 2008




Western Australia’s pristine Exmouth Gulf and its inhabitants are facing a more certain future thanks to a decision announced today by the Environmental Protection Authority to reject unconditionally a proposal for a large-scale salt mine to proceed in the environmentally-sensitive area.

Halt the Salt Alliance spokesperson Nic Dunlop said the Alliance was delighted with the EPA’s decision and urged the State Government to follow its advice to not allow the salt mine to proceed.

“There is overwhelming scientific evidence of the damage the 70-kilometre salt mine would cause to our north-west coast’s spectacular marine life,” he said.

The Exmouth Gulf, highly regarded for its environmental significance having been identified for special protection through a number of State and Federal Government mechanisms, would face an uncertain future if the mine proceeds.”

There was huge opposition to the proposed salt mine, with more than 3000 submissions sent to the EPA during and after the public consultation period about the damage it would do to one of Australia’s most productive marine ecosystems.

Under threat are the humpback whales (who migrate to the area each year to nurse their young and rest), dugongs and sea turtles as well as the many fish and birds who live and breed in the area.

“The salt mine could result in unwanted by-products, known as toxic bittens, seeping into the local environment while an excavated inland harbour and other infrastructure works would expose the area to generating sulphides that could destroy mangrove and algal mat habitat,” Dr Dunlop said.

“In addition, a massive retaining wall proposed along the salt mine would divert water flow away from the area, starving marine ecosystems of vital nutrients, particularly mangroves, which are breeding grounds for local fish.

“There is a very high risk marine pests would be introduced into the area, which could be attached to the international and domestic marine vessels, including 300-metre bulk carriers, that would have been constantly supplying the salt mine.”

Mr Dunlop said the salt mine would have a huge impact on the local tourism, pearling and prawning industries, which all rely on the Gulf remaining pristine and sustainable, causing a ripple effect on related industries and communities.

The precious Exmouth Gulf would be damaged forever, all in the name of producing salt for the plastics and petrochemicals industry in Asia,” he said.

“We will be sending submissions to the State Government to reject the salt mine proposal and encourage others to do the same to help preserve this precious and environmentally important ecosystem.”

Further information is available from www.haltthesalt.org.au.


Media contacts
Melissa Bramley on 0417 924 412.



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