A Chinese state-owned mining giant is preparing to build a massive dam in one of Australia's most pristine wilderness areas to contain 'toxic slu
A Chinese state-owned mining giant is preparing to build a massive dam in one of Australia’s most pristine wilderness areas to contain ‘toxic sludge’.
MMG bought the Rosebery mine on the boundary of the Tarkine rainforest in Tasmania’s north-west in 2009, to extract metals important to industries such as aerospace and national defence.
The Beijing-backed firm wants to turn 140hectares – the size of 200 football fields – of the rainforest dubbed ‘Australia’s Amazon’ into a 48m-high concrete lake to hold its mining waste products called tailings.
Protesters, including former Greens leader Bob Brown, are furious about the plans and say Australia must rally to stop it.
A Chinese state-owned mining giant is preparing to build a massive dam in one of Australia’s most pristine wilderness areas to contain ‘toxic sludge’. Pictured: flags at Rosebery mine in Tasmania
‘We’re going to defend this forest to the last effort,’ he told Channel 7’s Spotlight program on Sunday.
‘They can have their mine, we will have our forest … It’s one of the most beautiful places left upon the planet.’
The retired politician, who was born in NSW but has lived in Tasmania since 1972, said there are ‘just a tiny percentage of exploiters’ who want to expand mining in places where it would do great damage to the environment.
‘More and more these days they’re in Beijing or somewhere overseas making megabucks out of destroying places they have no relationship with,’ he said.
With the worldwide demand for zinc and copper greater than ever, MMG desperately wants to expand the mine at Rosebery.
Local man Kevin Mathewson said the area faces economic devastation including the loss of up to 550 jobs if it is not allowed to do so.
‘If they don’t have anywhere to store their tailings, they’ll just have to shut the mine. Simple as that,’ he said.
But Dr Brown denied that he is anti-mining and not trying to stop MMG’s mine.
MMG’s waste facility has leaked into the Pieman river 18 times since 2018. Rosebery mine is pictured
Protesters, including former Greens leader Bob Brown, are furious about the plans and say Australia must rally to stop it
‘We’re just saying keep your mining on your side of the river. Don’t dump your waste here into the Tarkine.’
MMG’s waste facility has leaked into the Pieman river 18 times since 2018, but the mine’s general manager Steve Scott is confident it is safe and said the frosty relationship between Australia and China plays no part in how the mine operates.
‘It’s important to have a voice on the mining side of things,’ he said. ‘We don’t see external pressure and geo-political issues on a daily basis at Rosebery.’
He added that ‘Mine sites don’t go forever. We just need (the tailings dam) for the time we’re here.’
‘We’ve got to strike a balance between jobs and the economics of it, but also solar power and wind turbines, we contribute to that (through the metals mined in Rosebery).’
Mr Scott said he would not want to be involved ‘in a place where I thought we were doing something bad’.
Chinese mining company MGM wants to build a dam in the Tarkine forest (pictured) in Tasmania
Rosebery mine (pictured) in Tasmania employs 550 people and wants to expand
But if the federal government allows a new dam to be built, Dr Brown said hundreds of hectares of rainforest which is home to some of Australia’s most endangered animals, such as Tasmanian devils, would be at risk.
‘If the Albanese government ticks off on flooding this place, this is going to be a vat of acid. You wouldn’t put your finger into it, and nothing can live in it,’ he said.
Though he is now 78-years-old, Dr Brown is ready to camp out in the forest to save it.
‘I’ve got my little tent packed, I’ve got my little bag ready, they’ll (try to) kill this forest but they’ll have to get rid of a lot of us in the process,’ he said.
Preparing for the battle that may be coming, protesters have already set up camp in the rainforest, including some who are taking up precarious positions several metres up very tall trees.
One of those is Dr Lisa Searle, who said people who visit the Tarkine always say ‘I feel alive, I can breathe’ when they experience it for the first time.
‘Forests like this are becoming rarer and rarer across the world. There has to be much more recognition of the natural value of leaving these places alone, rather than just seeing what we can extract from them,’ she said.
Dr Searle is in for the long haul. ‘I’m not going to stop and we’re not going anywhere. We’re going to keep fighting until the very last tree.’
Bob Brown said hundreds of hectares of rainforest which is home to some of Australia’s most endangered animals, such as Tasmanian devils (pictured), would be at risk
Dr Brown said the Labor government is not doing enough. ‘I think Australians are more and more appalled … and they want our government to arbitrate on behalf of the Tarkine.
‘When will we get a Minister for the Environment who’s going to say “I’m going to fight for the environment, I’ll fight it all the way to Cabinet.”‘
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek refused to appear on the program, but a spokesperson issued a statement saying ‘The Australian Government will make its own, independent decision on whether this project should be approved or not.’
That’s not enough for Dr Brown and his fellow protesters.
‘We have no right to expect the Brazilians to protect the Amazon or the Indonesians to protect the orangutans if we don’t protect this small, magnificent rainforest here in Australia,’ he said.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk