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CCWA welcomes Rio Tinto’s withdrawal from South West forests – urges greater protection for iconic natural places

The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) has joined other environment and conservation groups in welcoming a decision by Rio Tinto to withdraw several applications for exploration licenses in WA’s jarrah forests.

The mining company had planned to explore for lithium and nickel in the state’s South West, near Dwellingup, but told media today that it had abandoned the plans ‘in response to concerns raised by local communities’.

Rio Tinto’s plan had been fiercely opposed by groups like CCWA, the WA Forest Alliance (WAFA) and the Wilderness Society, as well as local shires and community groups. The matter had been before the Warden’s Court as late as February this year.

Speaking to the ABC, Mike Walmsley, President of the Shire of Waroona, said that he welcomed the decision.

“It’s a good outcome that the companies listen to community concern.”

“I’m sure there are other areas where some of these minerals might exist, but this one’s pretty special (…) It’s important that we protect those spots now.”

Jess Beckerling from the WA Forest Alliance echoed Mr Walmsley’s words.

“It is critically important that we protect the remaining native forests”, she said.

“There should be no new mining contemplated in these precious ecosystems (…) We are urging the state government to act decisively to securely protect these forests in a network of National Parks and Nature Reserves.”

Joe Heffernan, Executive Director of CCWA, acknowledged that raw materials like lithium and nickel would be necessary as the world developed new renewable energy technology, but urged proponents to consider their proposals carefully.

“Conservation and protection of our natural places must take priority”, he said.

“Our native forests are a particularly sensitive and valuable area for the protection of several endangered species and are recognised as a global biodiversity hotspot. It is imperative that we take steps to protect them.

“Mining for critical minerals is a necessary part of the clean energy transformation, but it cannot take place anywhere. We have far too many examples in the recent past of where invasive and destructive mining practices have wiped large areas of our native forests off the map. If miners like Rio Tinto want to be a key player in the production of raw materials for renewable energy, they must do better than they have done in the past – that starts with declaring pristine landscapes like our native forests ‘off limits’.

“We call on the state government to work with the Conservation Council of WA and likeminded groups in proactively identifying and protecting our iconic natural landscapes.”




MEDIA INFORMATION: The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) is the state’s foremost non-profit, non-government conservation organisation representing nearly 100 environmental organisations across Western Australia.  

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CONTACT: For any enquiries relating to this release, please contact Robert Davies

0412 272 570 or by email, [email protected]

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