The Mulga Rock project site is entirely inside the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological Community and is upstream from the Queen Victoria Springs A Class Nature Reserve. The area is listed as 'pristine' with no weeds or feral animals and is home to rare and endangered species including the Sandhill Dunart, the Marsupial Mole, Mulgara and the Rainbow Bee-Eater.
A uranium mine at Mulga Rock will destroy this precious environment. The project poses a serious long term risk to the downstream A Class nature reserve through radioactive mine waste (tailings). There are three fault lines that run through the project area close to the mine pit where the company, Vimy Resources intend to store long-lived radioactive tailings. There have been no studies or risk assessment of these fault lines becoming active in response to project disturbance.
Vimy Resources has routinely denied or downplayed the connection of Aboriginal people to the area, despite this area being part of the Seven Sisters song-line. The company have failed to negotiate or consult with all Traditional Owners and denied the historical connection of the Spinifex people to the area. The Spinifex people are a refugee community from South Australia who were forced to move West during the British Atomic Weapons testing program at Maralinga and Emu Field in the 1950's. The Spinifex people established a community called Cundeelee and used the Mulga Rock area for ceremony and burials. This place has become important to that community but Vimy Resources and State Government have not recognised their interest in the area and have not consulted adequately with the community.
Status: no final approval - not operating
- 15th of August 2016 - the WA EPA recommended that the Mulga Rock uranium mine could be approved.
- 25th November 2016 the Office of the Appeals Convenor released their report dismissing most of the grounds of Appeal, but added 8 conditions on flora, fauna, Aboriginal Heritage, tailings management and mine closure.
- 16th December 2016 The State Environment Minister granted conditional environmental approval
- 6th March 2016 the Federal Environment Minister granted conditional environmental approval - this is still not a final approval to begin construction.
What can you do?
- Sign the Uranium Free Charter
- Call your local Labor Member or your local Labor Candidate – ask them to not grant approvals for these unsafe, uneconomic and unwanted uranium mines and to commit to reintroduce the ban on uranium mining in 2018
- Donate to our fighting fund - to help us get legal advice and air radio ads in some key seats
- Write letters to your local paper about why you'll be voting for a nuclear free future at the next election
- Sign up to our weekly news bulletin to stay up to date on events, actions and news here
- 16 years
- Four open pits (mine voids)
- 14 waste rock piles
- Temporary above ground tailings storage and in pit disposal of radioactive mine waste
- Land Clearing 3,709 ha
- 15 million Litres of water per day
- 12 MW – diesel power
- 2 million tonnes of uranium a year (total approx. 32 million tonnes over the life of mine)
Sections not included in the Scoping Document that should be included in the Public Environment Review:
- Tailings Management: The most significant of these is tailings management. We note that the proponent has outlined their intention to store tailings in the unlined mined out pits. It is unclear if this will be in one pit or the 9 pits the proponent intend to mine. We have regularly advocated for the inclusion of complete tailings management plans in PER documents or equivalent as this aspect of uranium mine poses the greatest long term risk to the environment and public health. It is this aspect of a uranium mine that is unique and is the cause for much public concern. Given this high level of public interest is this particular aspect of uranium mining we urge the EPA to require the proponent to include a full complete tailings management plan in the PER.
- Waste Management: There is no defined intention to include waste management in the Public Environment Review; this would include waste rock, waste water, chemical waste, other general waste, tailings and protective clothing which would be classified as low level radioactive waste. We expect that this be evaluated and considered with comprehensive management plans outlined in the Public Environment Review.
- Transport: There is no indication that the company intend to review the environmental impacts and risks from the transport of uranium, a radioactive material. This aspect of uranium mining has a significant level of public interest because it involves the movement or uranium past homes, hospitals, communities, farm land, playgrounds. It also puts volunteer emergency services under pressure
- Radiological Environment: We expect that there is a comprehensive baseline study on the radiological environment, air, water, dust, flora, fauna and that the data be presented in the report – not a summary or interpretation por report about the data but that the actual data, methodology and conditions during testing be provided in the Public Environment Review.
- Processing and chemical storage and handling: The company has indicated that they will use acid leaching which will increase the amount of acid in the environment and poses significant risk of generating Acid Metlifferous Drainage. There is no clear indication from the Scoping Document that the company will consider the environmental risk and impact of processing, or storage and handling of processing chemicals.
- Climate and post mine closure: We note that in other Public Environment Review documents reviewed by the CCWA there has been an alarming lack of consideration for future weather events and the integrity of post mine closure land forms. We note that there is a State Government expectation the uranium mine tailings are isolated from the environment for no less than 10,000 years. This is a minimum standard applied to the Ranger Uranium Mine in the Northern Territory – and we note that the operator of that mine Energy Resources of Australia are failing to meet this requirement to isolate the tailings from the environment during the operation of the mine. We urge the EPA to require studies and modelling, with consideration of future 10,000 year weather events, on how tailings will effectively be isolated from the environment.
- Consultation and stakeholder engagement: We are concerned that the proponent has failed to identify significant stakeholders including traditional owners of the area, the local station owners and communities at Coonana and Laverton and communities who hunt in the region from Kalgoorlie. In a meeting in 2014 with Executive Director Mr Julian Tapp and previous to that with former Executive Director Chris Davis in 2010, we were informed that the company is of the view that there are no Aboriginal interests in the area based on a single anthropologist report from the 1980’s (see appendix – documents provided by EMA). This report has many limitations including the basis of the finding on discussions with people from Cundeelee mission who are a refugee community from South Australia forced to move after the Maralinga and emu fields Atomic weapons testing by the British. The report identified Mr Roy Sinclair as someone with possible interest. There are other people from the Sinclair family in the area who maintain an interest in the area. We believe the company have failed to meet basic expectations of engagement, research and due diligence on Aboriginal heritage protection and community consultation. We urge the EPA to require that EMA conduct new anthropologist studies in to the area.
Sections included in the Scoping Document that need additional requirements:
- Human Health: EMA has put human health, communities and workers, dust, gamma radiation and radon gas emissions into one category in the scoping document. We expect that there are very distinct studies and data collection for community health, workers health, dust management, gamma radiation and radon gas emissions as the all require unique considerations. Again we expect that that data collected be provided in the Public Environment review with details on the methodology and conditions during data collection in addition to any summary or comments about the data.
- Flora and Vegetation: We expect that studies will identify the clearing of 2,000 ha of native vegetation will impact on diversity, and the impact of that in the ecological integrity of the area. We expect that the baseline data itself and not just a description or summary of, will be presented in the PER complete with methodology and details of testing conditions.
- Fauna: We expect that the baseline data itself and not just a description or summary of, will be presented in the PER complete with methodology and details of testing conditions.We expect that the company do opportunistic testing of animals for radiological uptake. We expect that the company would pursue a study on the migration of animals that are typically hunted for food, the potential radiological uptake in those animals and risks to public health. We expect that studies will include complete studies of ecologically significant and non-significant fauna on and surrounding area to the project area.
- Hydrological Process: We expect that this will include concise review and baseline studies of the surface water and ground water, environmental needs of those water sources, recharge rates, existing radiological studies of water sources. We have the expectation and strongly urge the EPA to require the company to present the data from such studies in the PER with complete methodology and conditions during testing. We expect that this will include details on the impacts of dewatering and reinjection of water on the quality and quantity of groundwater.
File Archive Mulga Rock:
- The Australian Institute Briefing Dec 2020 here. For journalists, shareholders & investors.
- The Australian Institute Report Nov 2020 here.
- Our EPA Referral for Re-assessing new project here
- Public Environment Review (PER) companies mine proposal here
- Our submission to the PER here
- EPA Report - recommended approval here
- Read the Companies response to submissions here
- Our Appeal here
- Appeals Convenors report here
- State Environment Ministers response to appeals here
- State Environment Ministers approval here
- Federal Environment Ministers approval here
* A full list of PER documents and appendix for the Mulga Rock project are available through the EPA website here