Shree Minerals could start its $20 million iron-ore mine in the Tarkine in the next few days after new Federal Environment Minister Mark Butler re-approved the project.
His environmental approval for the Nelson Bay River mine came with 30 conditions, with one condition being the company has to pay $1 million for research into endangered animals in the region.
Tasmanian Minerals Council CEO Terry Long is pleased with the approval but unhappy with the number of stringent conditions.
“We believe these are political conditions, imposed in response to the eco-warriors, rather than being necessary on a scientific basis,” Long said.
Deputy Premier Bryan Green is also happy with the approval and said it would benefit the north-west, The Examiner reported.
“The company has advised it plans to immediately restart its site preparation work in accordance with approved management plans for the mining operation,” Green said.
But environmental group Save the Tarkine is looking to contest the latest approvals in court. They remain unconvinced despite stringent conditions laid by Butler.
“We are considering the document at the moment, but on the face of it there is nothing in this set of conditions that is different enough from the previous set that we wouldn’t expect to go back to court and get the same result,” spokesman for Save the Tarkine Scott Jordan said.
“Reading the document after the event is not sufficient,” Jordan said.
The Federal Court previously halted work at the iron ore mine, stating former federal environment minister Tony Burke did not take warnings on the dangers to the Tasmanian devil into account.
In addition to Burke’s original conditions, Butler has added additional stipulations including making staff commute to and from the site on a bus.
According to Butler, conditions on traffic within the mine vicinity would curtail negative effects on the Tasmanian devil.
The company also has to contribute $600,000 towards Tasmanian devil research and preserving the population. They will face a $48,000 penalty if they kill more than two devils in a 12-month period.
Butler said he “imposed conditions that I am confident will protect those species”, after examining the effects of development on different flora and fauna species.
Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne accused Butler of being the third anti-environment minister since 2010.
“A short-term mine with very few jobs is yet another ad hoc promise from a desperate local member backed by a new federal minister,” Milne said.
Conflict between mining companies and environmental groups continues in Tasmania as they battle over Tasmania’s economic prosperity and environmental conservation.
Former Greens leader Bob Brown said he would continue his fight against mining in the Tarkine region.
Pro-miners held a rally in Tullah earlier this year, drawing over 2000 people.