Conservationists launch second legal action against Tasmanian mining plans – by Karl Mathiesen (The Guardian – June 6, 2013)

Save the Tarkine group claims the proposed Riley Creek iron-ore mine would put endangered Tasmanian devils at risk
Australian conservationists on Wednesday lodged a second legal action against mining proposals in Tasmania, claiming that endangered Tasmanian devils are being put at risk.

Save the Tarkine co-ordinator, Scott Jordan, alleged that the local government approval process had been “fudged” in order to expedite the Riley Creek iron-ore mine.

“As often happens in Tasmania, when it doesn’t suit the company they toss the rules out the window and do the assessment that they need to get the thing done,” he said. Riley Creek is located in the Tarkine region in Tasmania’s north-west, a bitterly contested landscape where 10 mines are scheduled to open over the next five years.

Tension has been rising with large pro-mining rallies held in communities that see mining as an economic lifeline. The region has the highest unemployment figures in Tasmania, the state with the highest unemployment in Australia.

The Tarkine is the last area that remains free of devil facial tumour disease, a contagious cancer that has killed more than 80% of the world’s Tasmanian devil population. Environmentalists say the impact of mining on devils will be significant.

In a release last month, Tasmania’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) said the Riley Creek proposal was “capable of being managed in an environmentally acceptable manner, provided that environmental permit conditions are imposed and complied with”.

This included mitigating any impact the mine would have on devils.

The Riley Creek mine is one of three mines that Venture Minerals plan to open within 15km (nine miles) of each other. All three are scheduled to open in the next two years. Due to their proximity, the EPA had said the effect of the three mines must be assessed cumulatively.

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