New Environment Minister to re-asses mining in Tasmania

The new Federal Environment Minister will visit the Tarkine region in Tasmania this week to re-assess Shree Minerals’ iron ore mine which was rejected in the Federal Court.

Mark Butler will visit the north-west Tasmanian region amid ongoing tensions over mining developments.

Shree Minerals’ plans to develop an iron ore mine in the region were halted earlier this month after the Federal Court ruled former environmental minister Tony Burke failed to give “genuine consideration'' to conservation advice on the endangered Tasmanian devil.

Butler is meeting the group behind the court win, Save the Tarkine, and expects to make a draft decision on the project by Friday, ABC reported.

"The overriding pressure on me is to make sure I consider all of the information I'm required to consider in the legislation," he said.

"But subject to that overriding consideration that I do this as promptly as I can because I know that some certainty around this project, whatever view you take about the project, certainty around this project is important for north-west Tasmania."

Butler said the decision was not being rushed in the lead up to the federal election.

"The election timing is not a factor for me. These decisions can be made during caretaker periods."

"The overriding pressure on me is to make sure I consider all the information I'm required to consider in the legislation."

Debate erupted over the application for mining developments in the region last year, with Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke rejecting a National Heritage listing for the area.

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

Earlier this year, Tasmania’s Premier Lara Giddings said three new mining projects were expected in the region following Burke’s rejection of the National Heritage listing.

A pro-mining rally to show support for the mining industry was held in May, drawing over 2000 people in Tullah.

However anti-mining activists have vowed to fight any new mine approvals.

Former Greens leader Bob Brown has previously vowed to throw his support behind a campaign to stop mining in Tasmania’s Tarkine region.

Brown said that the Save the Tarkine group had its work cut out for it in trying to halt mine expansions in the region.

"It's a hard cause. I'm a patron for tough environmental causes," he said.

Brown said  Burke had "thrown the Tarkine open to the mining wolves".

"Tourism and mining don't co-exist. It will damage the brand, it will damage the image and when you do that, people will go elsewhere," he said.

Brown said he would fight to halt mining in the region "wherever I go", and was continually being asked to speak at business events and conferences. However, he said he would decline these invitations unless he could show footage of the Tarkine region first.

"I've got a three-minute clip of the beauty of the Tarkine under my arm," he said.

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