Tarkine mining could go ahead despite national heritage listing

Some mine leases may be excluded from a possible national heritage listing of Tasmania’s Tarkine region, fuelling debate about the future of the area.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said no decision has been made on the national heritage listing of the area after a report in The Australian revealed the federal government planned to exclude a number of leases from the heritage listing.

According to the report, these include plans by Venture Minerals for three open-cut mines in the area.

"A final decision is yet to be made," Bourke said.

Greens leader Christine Milne said that an excise of mine leases would damage the environment.

"It's the classic scratch across the face of the Mona Lisa – the scratch may be just 0.01 per cent of the Mona Lisa but you've destroyed the painting," she said.

"Once you start allowing roading and excise leases, you are destroying the integrity of the area."

GetUp! Campaign director Paul Oosting said any exclusions would be an "extraordinary abuse of process".

As Australian Mining reported earlier this year, the Tarkine region in the North West of Tasmania is at the centre of one of the most divided land use debates in Australia.

The rainforest covers around 4,500 square kilometres and debate has erupted over the application for mining developments in the region, with the Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke currently assessing a claim for site to be listed as a world heritage site, which would limit future mining projects.

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

Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes said his members, who were in favour of mining in the region, were seeking a "sensible, balanced" outcome.

"We hope the government makes a decision that does the right thing by the environment but won't cost existing or potential jobs in the mining industry," he said.

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