Rio Tinto and Alcoa have agreed to terminate a mining agreement to help create a massive national park.
The two companies have agreed to axe the Alumina Refinery (Mitchell Plateau) State Agreement Act which allowed them to mine bauxite and for the development of an alumina refinery in the northern Kimberley region, allowing the area to be incorporated into the Kimberley National Park.
“The Kimberley National Park can now include the Mitchell Plateau area, where Rio Tinto and other mining companies have undertaken exploration since the early 1970s,” Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh said.
“More than 175,000 hectares of land on the Mitchell Plateau will become part of what is intended be Australia’s largest national park, covering over two million hectares across the Kimberley.
“Rio Tinto has made this decision around the conservation of Mitchell Plateau as part of its long-standing and ongoing commitment as a member of the West Australian community,” he said.
“While the Mitchell Plateau bauxite resource is likely to hold value in the future, the State Agreement Act required the development of an alumina refinery which has always proven to be economically challenging.”
The termination of the agreement will occur with the finalisation of legislation passing through the WA State parliament.
This move is not unexpected for major miners, with the bigger players greening their credentials by supporting increased conservation.
Last year BHP announced $6 million to support the discovery of unique Australian fauna, and pledged more than $13 million to help protect 11,000 hectares of land in Tasmania as part of its Five Rivers Conservation Project.