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Protecting the Tarkine and Mining: The Facts

The umpire has spoken - the Tarkine is of outstanding national and world heritage

The Tarkine's values are well documented and take existing mining damage into account. In 2011 the Australian Heritage Council recommended 447,000ha be placed on the National Heritage List. However, this report mysteriously vanished from its website and Environment Minister Tony Burke now says it doesn't exist. He is the one who let the Emergency Heritage Listing of the Tarkine lapse and directed the Heritage Council to re-start its assessment and report in December 2013. 

Governments have been passing the buck, and worse

Environment Minister Tony Burke claims he cares about protecting the Tarkine, but his actions tell a very different story. His actions help the miners, not the Tarkine. He has not rejected any of the four mines submitted for federal environmental assessment. He has also refused to use his powers to have the total impact of all the new mines on the Tarkine assessed. Instead, they will each be assessed as if they are the only development proposed.

But it gets worse. From March 2013, Minister Burke won't even have a say on new mines because he intends to palm off responsibility for most national environmental issues to state governments.

The Tasmanian Premier, Deputy Premier and Environment Minister all lobbied Minister Burke to favour mining and oppose Heritage listing in the Tarkine. They cannot be trusted to protect it.

Protecting the Tarkine will not close any existing mines

Some people want you to believe protecting the Tarkine will close down existing mines. This is false. 

The proposed boundaries for the Tarkine take into account existing mines and place them in buffer zones. We can protect the 450,000 hectares permanently, and not cost a single existing mining job.

Claims that new mines in the Tarkine only need a tiny area are false

It's false to claim that new mines will cause little damage and leave the Tarkine in good shape.

There are already 10 new mine proposals and 58 exploration leases covering more than 80% of the Tarkine. Mining exploration causes significant damage, requiring new roads, clearing, drainage, digging test pits and platforms for drilling equipment.

Proposed new open-cut mines are located in unspoilt parts of the Tarkine

Environment Minister Tony Burke has been making statements like "there are parts of [the Tarkine] that are truly magnificent and special ... [but] it's not en masse an entirely pristine area". 

What he is not telling you is that new open-cut mines, such as Venture Mineral's massive tin mine, would be dug in an area that the Minister himself describes as being "magnificent and special". 

That's why this area in the Meredith Ranges is already in a state reserve. Unfortunately, the state reserve allows mining, so it's up to Minister Burke to protect it properly.

Once it's gone, it's gone forever - new open-cut mines and the Tarkine cannot co-exist

The Tarkine has world heritage values because it's the second largest temperate rainforest on earth; a relic of the ancient Gondwanaland continent. It's home to many plants and animals that are found nowhere else and unique cave systems. It's one of the very few wild places left on our planet.

Open-cut mines by their nature destroy the surface as well as underground features such as caves. Don't be fooled by talk of open cut mining "co-existing" with the Tarkine. Once it's destroyed, it's gone forever.

Short-term thinking vs. long-term thinking

The four proposed open-cut mines would create about 300 jobs for just 10 years. Two of the mines will operate for just two years each and create only 40 jobs, but destroy 200ha. 

Mining doesn't create anywhere near enough jobs to rebuild the local or state economy. The threat of mining is stopping further investment in tourism in the Tarkine, and undermining marketing to promote the Tarkine and Tasmania's reputation for wilderness and sustainability.

Money that governments will spend to provide infrastructure for mining could be spent promoting other long-term jobs in north-west Tasmania. Industries like farming, renewable energy and tourism don't destroy the Tarkine - in fact they will create jobs by recognising it's a vital local asset.

Old mines vs. new mines

Historical mining has left a few places in the Tarkine so damaged that rehabilitation is urgently needed. There are two proposals to mine existing toxic historic mining sites, cleaning them up in the process. These proposals don't conflict with protecting the Tarkine and are very different proposals to massive new open cut mines.

Get the facts out: write to your paper about the Tarkine.

Download this fact sheet as a pdf.

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