Friday, July 6, 2007

marathon to run in arkaroola sanctuary?

the burning bush, arkaroola - see photo on flickr

Marathon Resources Ltd. is proposing to mine Uranium at Mount Gee in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in the Northern Flinders Ranges.

Mt. Gee is approximately 6km north of Arkaroola Village and 2km west of Mount Painter [the most famous peak in the northern Flinders], right in the heart of the sanctuary and the internationally famous tourist area.

According to the company "Mt Gee has an inferred resource of 45.6 million tonnes averaging 680ppm U3O8 (cut-off grade 300 parts per million), yielding 31,250 tonnes of contained U3O8."

To quote from the company's Dr John Santich:

"Marathon’s deposit is ideally placed in terms of both its ore and its development potential. It’s in a province where there’s infrastructure nearby, we’ve got a good team, we’ve got the right sort of ore, we’ve got the right sort of tonnage and we have essentially the approval of the state government [emphasis mine] – it’s supported it in every possible way.

We’re well aware that there haven’t been uranium mines developed in South Australia for a couple of decades. And we don’t see any particular stumbling blocks to its development."

Stumbling blocks the company might wish to consider include the proposed mine being right in the centre of South Australia's premier private wilderness sanctuary! Not a minor concern, surely? But no matter; according to the company's website - in the 'sustainability' section - they "will consider all the environmental and social issues which need to be managed to enable an acceptable operation with minimal negative impact."

(Note the typical language inflation inherent in the 'sustainability' claims now routinely made by all of the more intelligent mining companies. How can digging a non-renewable resource out of the ground - once, and once only - ever be described as 'sustainable' in any meaningful sense? Simply; it can't.)

And those justly skeptical of mining companies' frequent claims of support from various levels of government may want to consider that Minister Paul Holloway - the state minister for Mineral Resources Development - just opened [Friday 20th July 07] their official new offices at 235 Port Road Hindmarsh. The company certainly seems confident of the SA government's backing;

"But with Mt Gee located in a state with a favourable regulatory environment for the uranium industry, Marathon is confident of developing this key asset to the benefit of all stakeholders."

"For the benefit of all stakeholders" may perhaps be translated more honestly as "for the benefit of all shareholders". Many stakeholders in the area, such as those who wish to see it left in its current near-pristine condition, may find it hard to perceive the benefit of a large-scale mining operation and its associated access roads and haulage.

There are echoes here of the earlier proposal to mine the nearby Weetootla Gorge in the Vulkathunha (Gammon Ranges) National Park, where the proponent company explained that even thought they proposed haulage access through the gorge, and the demolition of the hill forming its northern wall, they didn't think they would actually 'affect' it[!].

Marathon's claims are more sophisticated, but the inherent tension between areas of high conservation value and mining operations still remains...

"The Company is committed to exploration and mining with minimal environmental and social impact, recognising that its social license to operate depends from the outset on maintaining an environmental and social balance that is as close to original as practicable."

...should this mine proceed the word 'practicable' may be left to carry a lot!


marathon resources

Those wishing to see the project as presented by the company itself should view marathon's project video

1 comment:

  1. Wonder what this state is becoming? Is nothing sacred? We have Illuka threatening to overun Yumbarra, bulldozing exploration tracks indiscrimantly as we speak; The Roxby mine impacting on groundwater and moundsprings and now Arkaroola under threat. For those of you that have never been there it is a strikingly beautiful area with unique biological, geological and aboriginal heritage. Where will it stop? - why not mine Uluru for gravel? - there must be an economic benefit in that too. Has anyone looked down from a plane over remote SA lately? It's very depressing - a crisscross of seismic lines and exploration tracks everywhere - is there any wildnerness left? And from my travels over the ground it does not look any better that way. Time to interpt our comfortable lives and campaign on this one or there will be no wilderness left for our children to enjoy and appreciate.


thanks for your contribution - bill - i'm genuinely sorry about having to switch on the 'moderation' process but comment spammers have really been cluttering up this journal!