This week WA Environment Minister - Bill Marmion made a pseudo approval WA's first uranium mine . The Toro Wiluna uranium proposal still needs further state approval and federal approval as well as a speight of licenses. None the less Minister Marmion has made a significant decision to give environmental approval to a uranium mine with no mine closure plan, with insufficient water for the life of the mine, with no complete transport plan or Aboriginal heritage management plan. This The Government has se the bench mark for this industry at an all time low. We are calling on Toro Energy to release their mine closure plan publicly and publish the estimated mine closure costs.
Over the last week we have seen a number of significant changes globally with Japan’s decision to phase out nuclear power by 2013 and France announcing it will close one of the oldest and most volatile reactors and reduce nuclear dependence from 75% to 50%. We also saw a horrible example of policing in India when a fisherman who was protesting against the Kudankulam nuclear reactor was shot dead. As images of khaki wearing police dragging elderly women in their saris from the beach shock the world - here in Western Australia we see our State Government ignore the global implications of this industry and approve WA’s first uranium mine. This decision was made not with guns or violence but with sheer contempt for future generation and for the people in the Goldfields who have opposed this industry taking hold on their country for over 40 years and those who just completed a one month desert walk in opposition to the industry.
Whether you’re a shareholder or a tax payer this mine will cost you in the long run. Toro’s share price is currently at about 0.077 cents, the uranium spot price is down to $47 lb and the global demand of uranium is set to fall in western democracies. If this project gets started there is no guarantee Toro will have the mine closure bonds available, there is no guarantee Toro will last as a company past 2015 or 2016, the legacy this small, dodgy mine could leave us will fall on us the tax payers we will be left with yet another contaminated site to clean and manage and safeguard, another embarrassing legacy for our children.
We must ask ourselves – if the economics of this project does in fact rely on selling uranium to India where the police shoot protesters, or to notoriously un transparent nations like China or Russia – does this industry fit with West Australians morals and sense of responsibility.
The West Australia Nuclear Free Alliance thinks not – after discovering that it was Australian uranium that fuelled Fukushima and is now leaking into the environment, WANFA is more determined than ever to keep WA nuclear free.
WA Nuclear Free Alliance Conference Statement 2012:
The Western Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (WANFA), made up of Aboriginal Traditional Land Owners who are concerned about uranium mining on their country, from the Pilbara, the Kimberley, the Goldfields, the Great Victorian Desert, the Central Desert, the Gascoyne, Perth and the South West and their allies. WANFA met from 15th-16th of September at Kutunatu Ngurra camp just outside of Leonora.
Kutunatu Ngurra camp is a registered sacred site and has long been a central meeting ground for protection of country, culture and people. The re-establishment of Kutunatu Ngurra for the 2012 WANFA meeting is a testament to the continuing dedication and union of Traditional Owners opposed to uranium mining on their lands.
The West Australian Nuclear Free Alliance supports Aboriginal Sovereignty across all Aboriginal territories in Western Australia. WANFA demands that the Government and Industry respect the basic Human Rights of Aboriginal peoples and adhere to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, respecting our right to self-determination and engaging with Aboriginal peoples within the framework of the principle of Free, Prior and Informed consent.
With the current fast tracking of the Toro Energy Wiluna Uranium Project assessment, WANFA invited WA State Environment Minister, Bill Marmion, to attend the conference to meet with the people this mine will impact. After several requests the Minister continues to refuse to meet with representatives of WANFA and local Elders showing unwillingness to engage with community.
On September 19th, Bill Marmion announced that he has dismissed the appeals regarding Toro Energy’s Uranium Mine proposal. The Government is now in the process of finalising State Approval for this to become Western Australia’s first uranium mine, the proposal still has a number of approvals and licenses before it can proceed and WANFA along with other NGO’s and groups are investigating options to challenge the mine.
The Ministers conditions on the mine do not cover mine tailings and mine closure, long after Marmion’s term in Government and long after Toro has gone bankrupt the radioactive mine waste will sit on our country threatening and poisoning our lands and bush tucker. This mine is a risk to the environment, the water and the local community. Whether you’re a shareholder or a tax payer this mine will cost us as West Australians.
Bill Marmion’s announcement comes within a week of the fifth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Free, prior and informed consent are pivotal human rights encompassed within this declaration - rights that are achievable through adequate access to information, and community consultation. Both of these aspects are continually being withheld and ignored by the WA Government.
The West Australian Nuclear Free Alliance demands that the Government adhere to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and respect our right to self-determination.
We are determined to stop the poison of uranium mining in Western Australia by:
- Sharing information and our stories to educate people about the true risks of radiation
- Peaceful protest to demand the truth from Government
- Demanding transparency and community consultation during both the State and Federal Government’s mining approval processes
- Challenging the Australian Uranium Association’s Indigenous Dialogue Group who are representing the industry rather than a true Aboriginal community view
- Exposing anthropologists, archaeologists and pro industry consultants that attempt to validate negligent practices of the mining industry
- Demanding that our Land Councils, Native Title representative bodies and Native Title service organisations fulfil their legal requirements to be accountable, transparent and representative of the community’s views.
We call for:
- The WA Government to uphold the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and fulfil the basic right to free, prior and informed consent by consulting with communities along the proposed uranium transport route
- The WA Government to immediately commission an open, and independent public inquiry into uranium mining
- The federal environment minister, Tony Burke, to block any proposed uranium mining project in Western Australia
- The Western Australian ALP to remain committed to the policy formed at the last ALP State Conference to ban any uranium mines in Western Australia and to close any uranium mines that may be approved under the current Government
- Those who finance the uranium industry, to avoid the uncertainty and contamination of this trade, and instead invest in renewable, clean energy
- Governments and the nuclear industry to stop minimising and trivialising the dangers radiation.