SA govt considers Arkaroola mining ban

South Australian Premier Mike Rann has told state parliament the total mining ban on the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is being considered but a final decision has not been made.

South Australian Premier Mike Rann has told state parliament the total mining ban on the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is being considered but a final decision has not 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."

On Tuesday he told the parliament that the government recognised the environmental significance of the area, which would influence a decision to ban mining there.

"It is a stunning landscape, rich in flora and fauna. I found its beauty to be compelling," Mr Rann said.

Despite being caught illegally dumping waste in the northern Flinders Ranges in 2008, Marathon Resources received a new mining license for Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary earlier this month.

Greens MP Mark Parnell said he wanted to make the new minister aware how important Arkoola was.

“One of the first phone calls the new minister will get will be from me and it will be on behalf of those thousands of South Australians who know that Arkaroola is just to precious to mine,” he said.

“The feeling isn’t just from conservation groups. 

"There are senior academics in geology and even got people on the conservative side of politics who all agree that Arkaroola is too important to mine.’

Rann said prior to making a decision, the government will consult with the native title holders, pastoral lease holders and the holders of all exploration licences.

He said the decision to allow Marathon award Marathon a new license did not provide a right to mine and that the government has advised the miner it is exploring options for the future of the sanctuary.

The premier said other options included declaring the sanctuary a national park or placing it on the National Heritage List in conjunction with a mining ban.

Matthew Turner of the Wilderness Society told the ABC declaring the sanctuary a national park would not be enough to protect the sanctuary.

"Just by calling it a national park will not prevent mining," he said.

"Many in the community would be unaware that 83 per cent of the area of our national parks is actually open to mining and mining exploration, so the Government needs to go much further than that.

"If the Government doesn’t then they’re basically trying to pull the wool over our eyes."

The Premier said preservation of the area will be a top priority.

"We will be considering all of the available options to preserve the iconic Arkaroola Sanctuary," Mr Rann said.

"To be clear, all options, including a definitive ban on mining at Arkaroola, are on the table."

In July last year, South Australia’s peak mining body, the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy, said a mining ban was not needed in Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary.

Chief executive Jason Kuchel said mining legislation should allow mining companies the chance to prove how individual projects meet environmental guidlelines.

“Some people would like to see blanket bans on most of South Australia and if you end up with everywhere being off limits or almost everywhere being off limits then where do we get our resources from?" he said.

"If the concern is about the environment then companies need to demonstrate that they can mine in an environmentally-sensitive fashion."

Image: Doug Sprigg;

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