Greens call for Arkaroola mining ban

Greens MP Mark Parnell says he hopes the South Australian Government will today announce a full ban on mining in the Arkaroola wilderness in the northern Flinders Ranges.

It comes amidst calls for the region to be made into a full wilderness sanctuary.

Premier Mike Rann, mineral resources minister Tom Koutsantonis and the SA environment minister will fly to Arkaroola to make an announcement today, the ABC reports.

The government has already said that it is considering a ban on mining in the Arkaroola region.
Parnell said a decision on the region is overdude.

"The Government doesn’t share with the Greens all its plans for the environment, but I’m hoping along with many South Australians that the Government will now do the right thing and announce the permanent protection of the Arkaroola mountains," he said.

"I took some comfort from the Premier’s words earlier this year that the conversation was now about protection rather than exploitation."

In a statement today, Parnell asked whether the Government would guarantee no new licences would be granted once Marathon Resources current licence expires, and whether the protection offered to the region guarantees no new mining activity in the future.

In February, Rann said that the government was considering a full mining ban on the region, but no decision had been made.

Although there has been some media speculation about this possible option, no decision has been made by the Government," he said.

"It needs to be understood that conferring national park status would not necessarily preclude mining and could leave the way open for future governments to allow mining at Arkaroola."

However, he added that “to be clear, all options, including a definitive ban on mining at Arkaroola, are on the table".

Marathon Resources, which mines in the region, was caught illegally dumping waste in 2008 yet still received a new mining licence for Arkaroola that month.

On the back of this upcoming announcement, Marathon has entered a trading halt, stating it will "allow time for Marathon to consider and respond to the annoumcement by the Government of South Australia, relating to exploration and mining, affecting its Exploration Licence EL 4355 in the northern Flinders Ranges".

The Wilderness Society has previously said that “just calling it a national park won’t prevent mining”.

A decision on the region will be announced later today.

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