Monday, August 10, 2009

10/10: Paul Holloway's opportunity to earn full marks

leigh creek police make a preliminary excavation into the mount gee east waste pit - photo: ABC online - link to my Arkaroola Sanctuary - would U mine it? set on flickrOn the 10th of the 10th this year Paul Holloway, SA's Minister for Mineral Resources Development, has a rare opportunity.

He can earn himself and his government full marks - 10/10 - simply by not doing something!

He can not renew Marathon Resources lease over the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary - which expires on that day - and you can ask him to take this golden opportunity, too.

I'm sure you're familiar now with the objections to exploration in such a unique and beautiful area, with the waste dumping scandal that came to light in January last year, the long clean-up that followed, and the company's hand-wringing mea culpas and declarations of having turned over a new leaf.

But the company has consistently claimed it was utilising environmental best-practice, and that its commitment to maintaining a social licence to operate was central to its operations. (See Fox to Henhouse - this time it'll al be different!)

As the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary's owner Marg Sprigg has said 'leopards don't change their spots.' The owners just want the company - and miners generally - gone from the heart of the award-winning Sanctuary they have worked so hard to create.

And who could blame them?

Minister Paul Holloway spoke of the need to identify those areas that are not appropriate for exploration access in Parliament in March last year. As he said, this would benefit both the environment and the mining industry. The Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is clearly one of those places; in fact, the ideal place to begin the process of identification and declaration of such mineral no-go zones.

An example letter - mine to the Minister - is attached. As usual, please feel free to attach your own (politely worded) correspondence as a comment below. Other inspiration and information might be found in browsing the site.

Correspondence can be directed to -

The Hon. Paul Holloway
Minister for Mineral Resources Development

GPO Box 2832

send a letter via e-mail -

Dear Minister Holloway,

In exactly two months time, on 10/10 2009, EL 3258, in the heart of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, will expire.

I am writing to ask you, on that day, to earn full marks for yourself and your government – that is, 10/10! I am writing to ask you to neither renew this exploration lease, nor grant it to any other company.

Having written to you before I do not intend to go over old ground in listing my objections to your having authorised this exploration program. After the public exposure of the waste dumping scandal in 2008, and Marathon Resources’ suspension from drilling from that date, I’m sure we’re both only too painfully aware of what an environmental and public-relations farrago has followed.

In fact, I’d argue that if you will not refuse to renew Marathon’s lease, you leave your government open to speculation about both its Environmental bona fides, and precisely how outrageous a company’s actions might have to be before you would be willing to take such a decisive step. I remind you that the Premier himself described Marathon’s actions as ‘cowboy’!

I also remind you that the regulations clearly state that the licensee’s performance in respect of the current program will be taken into consideration when reviewing an application, and that favourable consideration will be given to the granting of a subsequent EL over the same area, or a reduced area, when a licensee has satisfactorily fulfilled all obligations of the previous EL.

The public will quite reasonably expect that these obligations must certainly include any DEF. And, surely, a logical converse; that favourable consideration should not be given where the performance has been so, well, unsatisfactory?

I have recently commented on the proposed changes in legislation your government has put forward, some of them apparently in direct response to the case of Marathon’s activities in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, and the deficiencies in existing legislation you yourself have stated had been made apparent by it.

While for the most part I have commended these proposed changes, I want to restate my main objection to them here; the problem is not insufficient Regulation in itself, it is allowing mineral exploration in such a sensitive region in the first place.

I would like to refer you to your own comments made to Parliament in March 2008 –

By and large, the mining industry as a whole does not want to be involved in mining and issues which create public controversy and which create conditions that are to the detriment of the mining industry as a whole. [The emphasis is mine] They would rather avoid such issues. So, where there are areas of high conservation value or other aesthetic value that are not within national parks or are not within a classification of park that prohibits mining, we need to assess them. I know that my colleague the Minister for Environment and Conservation is aware of that, and we are trying to develop a system where we can ensure that we do not have these issues arise.

I put it to you that the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is clearly just such an area, and the perfect place to inaugurate the commendable program you refer to.

I will be writing to the Minister for Environment and Conservation asking him to join with you and all the relevant stakeholders in developing just such a system,

Yours Sincerely,

Bill Doyle


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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!