Iron ore mine battle heads to Federal Court

The battle to stop a mine development in Tasmania’s Tarkine region has begun in the Federal Court as an environmental group challenges the approvals process.

Environmental group Save the Tarkine are seeking a review on former Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke’s decision approving Shree Minerals iron ore mine.

Campaign co-ordinator Scott Jordan said Burke approved the mine without knowing the impacts it could have on the endangered Tasmanian devil.

"We will argue that Minister Burke has not acted in accordance with the provisions of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, and as such the approvals granted are invalid," Jordan said.

"This mine should not have received approval, and we are asking the court to rule against it. “

Tasmanian Primary Industries Minister Bryan Green has previously said he was confident the mine would go ahead.

"The mine has received all State and Commonwealth approvals and the Tasmanian Government is fully supportive of the project," Green said.

"Because the project has been through such a rigorous assessment process, I fully expect that the challenge will be unsuccessful."

Shree Minerals have been forced to temporarily halt construction at the  proposed iron ore mine site until the review has been heard.

Debate continues to rages between environmental groups who want mining developments halted and companies and potential employees who say opening up the Tarkine region to mining is crucial in the future economic prosperity of Tasmania.

Save the Tarkine has also appealed against Venture Minerals’ proposed iron ore mine at Riley Creek near Tullah.

Jordan said the group lodged the appeal with the Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal as it is not satisfied with the Environmental Protection Authority’s assessment of the mine and claimed it had failed to meet its own criteria.

He said it had only examined one of three mine-specific documents looking at effect on wildlife.

“The government trying to find shortcuts is not acceptable, it’s a recipe for disaster,” Jordan said.

In May, a pro-mining rally attracted more than 2000 people in Tullah.

Premier Lara Giddings said the rally was ‘the biggest pro-mining rally ever in Tasmania’.

Giddings said mining was essential for Tasmania’s economy and she reaffirmed her support for new mines in the state, saying mining jobs had risen by 2000 in the last two years.

“The government fought hard against the heritage listing of the Tarkine, and the cloud of uncertainty hanging over the industry since the federal Liberal government nominated the area for assessment has been lifted,” she said.

Green said the government and the mining industry were working together to advance new mine projects and was convinced more mines would be developed.

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