West Australian mining minister Norman Moore is facing a split within his party as he rejects proposals to prevent coal mining in the Margaret River region.
In May last year WA premier Colin Barnett pushed for the entire region to be declared a no go zone for coal mining, even if miners gain formal approval for operations in the area.
Barnett announced his decision at a Perth business luncheon stating that even if LD Operations, which put forward multiple applications to mine in the area, won its appeal to the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) mining proposal rejection, he would "be prepared to act" to block the appeal.
The WA premier has previously said that any laws introduced would be similar to those protecting the Swan Valley, but added that "we’re not legislating to stop the mining industry. If we legislate, it’s to protect the unique, tourist and agricultural characteristics of Margaret River".
According to the AFR, Moore’s comments follows a new coal mining battle in the state, as Rey Resources seeks to mine near Derby, in the Kimberley.
In June last year Indigenous land owners in the Kimberley region were warned not to approve coal mines in the region.
They warned that the coal mines should not move forward until more information is known on the potential environmental impact of the projects
University of WA’s Peter Cooke explained that his study showed a lack of information regarding how the mine would affect river systems, aquifers and the land.
However, he added that "my study was not intended to say yes go ahead or don’t go ahead.
"It was intended to bring forward the risks of the coal mining and really the conclusion and the recommendation that my study came to was that at this stage we don’t know enough in order to give an informed decision."
According to the ABC, local Broome woman Anne Poelina had already lodged an objection to Rey Resources’ mining licence application.
The AFR reports that Poelina and the WA Wilderness Society have asked the mining warden to delay approving leases until the EPA completes its examination of the proposals.
In particular, concern was raised over the impact a mine would have on the Fitzroy River.
Moore stated that it was merely a coincidence the two mines in the Margaret River region were rejected, telling the AFR new planning zones are not a given.
"I am not sure that having different planning zones will necessarily give you the outcome that you want."
LD Operations proposed Vasse coal project is still awaiting a decision from the environment minister.