Legal battles hurting Tasmanian mining

The Tasmanian Minerals Council has said persistent legal challenges against proposed mines in the Tarkine could repel mining operators from the state.

Council chief executive Terry Long labelled Save the Tarkine Coalition’s injunction against Shree Minerals’ Nelson Bay mine an ‘abuse of the legal system’.

“It demonstrates that even if you get your approvals through the legitimate regulatory processes, and through the approvals set by the Environmental Protection Authority, that doesn’t mean you have got a project in Tasmania,” Long said.

A federal court judge upheld the injunction against Shree Minerals yesterday but postponed a two-day hearing on the issue to July, The Examiner reported.

The mine, south-west of Smithton, could generate 100 jobs.

Save the Tarkine Coalition spokesman Scott Jordan said the group filed the injunction to prohibit the start of mine work while the legal challenge against federal Environment Minister Tony Burke’s approval of the mine was ongoing.

The group claims Burke’s approval breaches the Environmental Protection Legislation due to the effect on endangered species like the Tasmanian devil.

The group lodged a case in the Federal Court, asking them to review Burke’s decision to approve Shree Minerals’ iron ore mine.

Shree Minerals contested the injunction and was directed to pay the environmental group’s legal expenses for yesterday’s court appearance in Melbourne.

Premier Lara Giddings said the injunction is worrying.

“We firmly believe that Shree Minerals should be able to pursue their project in an area where we’re talking about only about 1 per cent of that region being open to mining,” Giddings said.

Opposition mining spokesman Adam Brooks observed the groups that were against forestry were now focusing on mining.

“You can never appease green groups,” he said.

But Deputy Premier Bryan Green appeased these fears earlier this month when he said the fight over mining from environmentalists will not be as long or serious as the forestry debate.

He said the peace deal had bridged the gap between the government and environmentalists.

“We’ve established an enormous amount of good will,” he said.

 “The forestry industry moved from coupe to coupe, it was always a different battlefield every day of the week.”

Mining in the Tarkine has been a contentious issue since Burke refused a National Heritage listing, leaving it open for mining and exploration projects.

Shree Minerals refused to comment on ongoing court proceedings.

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