Venture Minerals received approval for its Tarkine mine in Tasmania from Environment Minister Mark Butler, less than a week after he approved Shree Minerals’ iron ore mine.
As the federal election campaign begins, Butler approved the iron ore mine near Tullah with strict conditions to protect endangered species.
The mine will run for two years, the SMH reported.
A hearing began last week for environmental group Save the Tarkine’s legal bid against mining at Riley Creek. The group claimed the mine approval did not properly consider the environmental impact of mining activity.
But in a setback for the group, Butler approved the mine with conditions attached.
The company will face a penalty of $48,000 if their trucks kill more than two Tasmanian devils a year.
Similar to Shree Minerals, Riley Creek is subject to other conditions such as truck traffic confined to daylight periods, and employees transported by buses in and out of mine sites to prevent the devils being run over.
The company also has to pay $144,000 for preserving the “insurance population” of devils.
There are also other conditions to protect the spotted-tail quoll, wedge-tailed eagles and Tasmanian azure kingfishers.
Save the Tarkine spokesman Scott Jordan has accused the government of trying to garner votes in the upcoming election by approving the two mines.
He said federal Labor is trying to retain its seat of Braddon, The Australian reported.
“The minister has raced to rush this out for a perceived electoral gain,” he said.
“This is a shameful decision that further compromises the integrity of Tarkine.”
But the Tasmanian government is happy with the decision, saying Riley Creek would boost the Tasmanian economy by $40 million.
“The northwest and west coasts have some of the most highly mineralised prospective areas in the world and I am confident we will see more new mines in the region,” Deputy Premier Bryan Green said.
The Venture and Shree Minerals’ mines in Tasmania have been controversial talking points in the state, with debate raging between conservationists and the mining industry.
Save the Tarkine appealed against Riley Creek in June after it got state government approval in May. They appealed to the Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal, Jordan said.
Jordan was dissatisfied with the Environmental Protection Authority’s assessment of the mine and said it failed to fulfil its own criteria.
The Federal Court previously threw out a previous approval by Labor for Shree Minerals’ $20 million iron ore mine at Nelson Bay River.
Former Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke rejected a National Heritage listing for the Tarkine region earlier this year, removing barriers for mining and exploration development.
The group had won a bid to temporarily stop construction at a proposed iron ore mine. They argued mine work should not progress while the review against the mine was under way.