On Friday 26 Nov 2021 over 50 supporters came out to protest against the proposed Mulga Rock uranium mine at Vimy Resources Annual General Meeting (AGM). We had a loud and vocal protest with speeches from Steve McCartney, State Secretary of the AMWU, Debbie Carmody - Upurli Upurli Nguratja Native Title Claimant and descendent of Anangu Spinifex people and Mia Pepper from CCWA.
Debbie attended the AGM with a Shareholders proxy and was able to make a strong statement about the groups opposition to the mine, the lack of consultation, the significance of the area which is part of the seven sisters songline and the threat to the endangered Sandhill Dunnart.
There was a great media response with articles in the Kalgoorlie Miner, The West Australian, The Guardian, WA Business News, Perth Now and Channel 10 nightly news - see below for links.
At the AGM the companies chairperson, former Liberal Attorney General Cheryl Edwards, resigned following a suite of other senior executives resigning over the last 6 months - this has been described as an exodus. The companies share price has been falling - despite the company announcing that they have submitted a 'notification of substantial commencement' to the WA government - a critical milestone for whether or not the project can proceed. But it seems their shareholders aren’t buying it. Neither are we and we hope the WA government won’t be drinking the kool aid either.
We are now watching closely to see whether or not the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) will agree that what the company have done constitutes as “substantial commencement." We continue to argue that the company have been clearing vegetation which is destructive but not substantial commencement. They have focused on refurbishing exploration infrastructure and have cleared over 140ha of native vegetation which is less than 1% of the 3,700 ha they intent to clear. So while clearing this vegetation - including prime habitat for the Sandhill Dunnart - is destructive it is not substantial commencement.
Vimy told shareholders on Friday they would not begin production at the site until 2025 - it is a hard case for them to make that what they have done constitutes as substantial commencement of mining when they are years away from production, they are yet to make a Final Investment Decision, they don’t have the capital to develop the project and are still scrambling to get export licenses and permits to possess nuclear material, develop a nuclear facility and given that they are still yet to meet with the Native Title claimant group. They also don’t have a Works Approval or an Approved Sandhill Dunnart Conservation Plan - a condition of their federal approval.
If Vimy fail to meet the “substantial commencement" condition Vimy’s condition 3 of their environmental approval will prevent them from developing the mine after the 16th of December 2021. The company may seek to amend their environmental conditions which could spark a new environmental assessment or be rejected. We’re on a knifes edge.
This is the only uranium project in WA that has advanced, or even attempted to advance. There are no operating uranium mines in WA and this is the last threat - the approval for Kintyre expired in March 2020, and the approvals for Yeelirrie and Wiluna expire in January 2022 where there has been no movement or ambition to develop these projects. Vimy’s Mulga Rock project is the last project that stands between WA and a nuclear free future. Stay posted as things develop. When the time is right we will call you again to stand up, with communities and workers for our environment and unique desert places for a nuclear free future.