Alcoa has announced that it will establish an 8,344-hectare (ha) mining avoidance area around the town of Dwellingup in WA, in an effort to minimise impacts on locals.
The avoidance zone will help protect 5,000ha of forest, as well as the 31km Bibbulmun walking track and Munda Biddi cycle trail near the town. The company also indicated that the decision is intended to help protect the local environment, lifestyle, ecotourism, and recreational values of the residents of Dwellingup.
Through the Alcoa Refinery Agreement Act 1961, a State agreement with the Western Australian Government, Alcoa holds a bauxite mining lease up until 2045, which includes land around Dwellingup.
Alcoa Australia president Matt Reed said the company’s decision to establish the Dwellingup no mining zone followed extensive studies and consultation, and respected feedback about the area’s growing importance.
“We hope this decision provides greater certainty about our intentions in a prospective mineral area and demonstrates our willingness to protect important environmental and social values,” he said.
“We respect the Dwellingup area has immense lifestyle, ecotourism and forest recreational values that people want to continue to enjoy now and into the future.
“We have worked closely with the Shire of Murray and other stakeholders in reaching this decision, and we believe this commitment will provide certainty to the community for the future.”
Roughly 75 per cent of Alcoa’s bauxite, and 71 per cent of its alumina, comes from WA jarrah forests specifically.
WA Premier Roger Cook welcomed the decision.
“The announcement reflects the value of Dwellingup’s incredible landscapes, including the magnificent jarrah and marri forest, to the local community, its expanding ecotourism industry and the State,” he said.
“My Government will work with Alcoa to protect the natural beauty of the Dwellingup area for generations of Western Australians to come.”
US mining company Alcoa has been operating in the jarrah forest region of Western Australia since the lease was first granted in 1961. The company’s WA mines are responsible for the production close to 36 million tonnes of bauxite each year.