Mining group calls for law reforms against activist groups

The Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council wants tougher laws against green groups that it claims are trying to drive the mining industry out of the state.

The council is pushing the Coalition government to expand its proposed environmental law reforms to halt activists from opposing mines on a purely "philosophical basis".

In a submission on the reforms, the miners group says the “green –left” were using legal technicalities to challenge projects and “impose their minority view up broader society”, The Australian reported.

Citing groups such as Save the Tarkine, who took their fight against Shree Minerals new iron ore mine to the Federal Court, the group says some organisations "will take whatever action is necessary or possible to stop them".

"It is a campaign characteristic of the believers in Deep Ecology . . . that if they do not have their way in the legislative or regulatory processes surrounding a potential project, they resort to the tribunals or courts as a last-chance opportunity to prevent it," the submission says.

It says environmental groups choose names such as Tarkine "so that they can campaign to have the such-and-such 'saved' even though it is not under threat".

Tarkine National Coalition campaign co-ordinator Scott Jordan has rubbished the comments and says his group is a “grass roots” organisation.

"We have to go out and fundraise to take things to court,” Jordan said.

"What we have opposed is new mines in the existing reserves within the Tarkine . . . we make no apologies about standing up against that," he said.

Officially opening the mine in November, Shree battled a protracted approvals process which saw court injunctions and protests levelled against the company.

In April conservationists took their fight to the Federal Court, challenging the then federal environment minister’s project approval.

At the time the Federal Court ruled former environmental minister Tony Burke did not give "genuine consideration" to conservation advice on the Tasmanian devil.

But in July the new environment minister Mark Butler re-approved the $20 million project, attaching 30 strict conditions.

It is expected other mining bodies in Australia will call for similar reforms as injunctions, civil disobedience and court cases threaten to hamstring new mining projects.

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